Tips For Successful Virtual meetings
Zoom and Webex and Teams and Hangout meetings are everywhere! But what if you've been doing meetings in the office your entire career? How do you run a successful meeting in this brave new world of social distancing and work from home?
#1 - Video
I'm not going to say you should make video a requirement, but it should be encouraged, and you can encourage it as a member of the leadership team by using it first. Particularly when transitioning from in person meetings to virtual, video gives you those non-verbal cues and a way of demanding attention from your attendees that audio only just doesn't do. It lets you look each other in the eye (or camera) and tends to reduce the amount of overtalking that virtual conferences can tend to have.
#2 - Audio
Headphones and microphones and earbuds and airpods, oh my! Want to reduce that dreaded feedback? These are absolutely mandatory for your meetings. Being able to hear the team clearly, understand what is going on, and not hearing yourself again at a slightly lower volume 1.5 seconds later are necessary for a succesful meeting
#3 - Go Mute Yourself
Don't be afraid of that mute button. If you aren't talking, mute should be on. You'll reduce background noise, and the dog barking won't matter if you are muted.
#4 - Agenda
You should have been using an agenda for your in person meetings too, but with a virtual meeting replacing those quick 5 minute walk by chats it's even more important now. Virtual meetings require a time slot, a calendar invite, a commitment, and you as the organizer have an obligation to reduce that time commitment and keep the meeting on topic, whether it's a 5 minute meeting or a 90 minute meeting.
#5 - Meetings are discussions
You set up a meeting because you have something to discuss or troubleshoot or work through with a team. Anything else could have been an email. Talk with your team, not at them.
#6 - Define Clear Takeways As Notes
Anything that happens as a result of the meeting should be documented and sent out. This isn't specific to virtual meetings, it's just good meeting ettiquette. There should be no ambiguity as to who is doing what as a result of your meeting
#6 - This Isn't Normal Work From Home
There has never been a time where you've been forced to work from home, your spouse has been forced to work from home, your kids are at school from home, and the daycare centers have shut down. Your home is more hectic than it has ever been and you are doing great. It's ok if the baby cries and you need to pick it up, It's OK if your toddler wants to sit on your lap and the same goes for your team.
This is unusual and we're all trying to cope. Be flexible, be understanding, be supportive and recognize that someone may need to pinch hit on a meeting, or maybe table that topic until the dog has been let out. You are doing great, and all we can ask is that you try your best.