As the state of the world continues to shift, businesses are trying to find more ways for employees to work together while staying further apart. As we all adjust to working from home, you may be discovering new-found respect and a longing for the enterprise technologies that once supported you throughout the day. It’s these technologies that allowed us to stay connected and work together seamlessly – be it with a colleague working in the field or stationed in another city, and/or distribution centers overseas.
Today we'll look at tips for running a productive remote meeting to ensure that your company can maintain a high level of engagement and interaction between employees. Slowly but surely, we can increase the trend line for productivity as we adjust to the new normal.
1. Select Common Technology for Meetings and Collaboration
In-person, we take for granted many of the facts of a boardroom setting that facilitate meetings. After all, boardrooms are designed to host meetings. Maybe there's a seating arrangement that focuses attention on a whiteboard or projector screen where the meeting's presenter can show an agenda or important presentation slides. When we're removed from that setting, you'll need to think about standard tools that are accessible to your employees to fill in gaps in a conference room setting.
Some options include:
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Office 365
Familiarizing yourself with these tools is helpful not only in addressing the current situation facing the world, but also - once normalcy resumes, knowledge of these technologies will help you be effective and efficient for the times when you can't make it into the office.
2. Be Well Prepared for the Meeting
There's nothing worse than hearing, "I don't have an agenda prepared for this meeting," - last of all during a pandemic. Now more than ever, businesses need to ensure that they're prepared for meetings since there are more distractions than ever. In an office, it can be challenging to maintain the attention of everyone in attendance. When you're connecting with a team remotely, there are more distractions that you must compete with; spouses, children, pets, are among several important people vying for our attention at home.
Your meeting needs to have a stated objective. A clear agenda to help those in attendance stay focused or provide an easily referenceable framework to return to when distractions take hold of their attention.
Equally important is to be punctual. Start and end the meeting on time. Set a precedent early on that although we may be in a more relaxed atmosphere than an office space, you expect that people are still professional. Today, many businesses operate on a global scale. It's important to consider attendees' time zones. Set meetings at convenient times for all members to attend. This will not only ensure that everyone is available, but also, that you're not competing for their attention if you've caught them outside of regular business hours.
Make sure to rehearse for your meeting as well. The benefits of the rehearsals are two-fold; you can deliver a concise message, but equally, you can further familiarize yourself with your conferencing technology, including your microphone and audio equipment. Doing so will prevent losing time to the familiar refrain, "Can you hear me now?” Arriving early will give you more time to test out your technology beforehand as well and solve any ad hoc connectivity issues.
3. Encourage Certain Types of Behaviour from Attendees
You want to encourage warmth and friendliness. Let your employees have a moment to reconnect with one another and socialize. Remember, during social distancing, we're all deprived of the normalcy of socialization that we enjoy in our daily lives. Give them some breathing room at the outset of the meeting will set a positive tone, reinforce the solidarity of your team, and allow them to be less distracted during the session.
You should encourage your employees to keep their cameras on. Body language and facial expressions are important queues in communication and can increase attentiveness and reduce the anonymity of remote meetings. Not to mention, seeing your employees' faces can help make the physical distance between people seem smaller.
Do make use of the mute button, this feature is key for keeping distracting background noise to a minimum during the presentation and discussion.
4. Take Charge
As the meeting moderator, you're in charge, you've called the meeting, now it's time to ensure that you're running it. Call the meeting to order and make introduction as needed. Many businesses are finding that their response to COVID-19 is requiring them to stay agile. Thinking outside of the box may put you in contact with people in your company that you usually wouldn't interact with. That's why it's essential to ensure that everyone knows who's on the call.
Ask a few simple questions to ensure that everyone can participate fully: Can everyone hear? Can everyone see the presentation? Is everyone present? Share your screen and the agenda, and keep people informed of the length of the meeting. Additionally, ensure comprehension along the way so that people stay engaged.
It can be a little clumsy when multiple people try speaking all at once, and for some, speaking into a microphone can cause some anxiety. Don't be surprised if when you open the lines for feedback or questions, you don't hear much. A way around the initial stage fright is to call on key individuals, which will encourage them that the floor is theirs, making it more likely that they will offer an opinion.
Lastly, follow up with meeting minutes, action items via email that summarizes the meeting.
5. Do Your Part
Whether you're the organizer or participate, do your part. You should participate, but don't dominate the meeting. Arrive on time, because you impact all those in attendance. Test your equipment, no one else has access to it. Stay focused in a meeting, despite the distractions. If you have multiple browser tabs open, maybe close them for a while so that you can better focus.
Most of all, keep the meeting open to two-way communication and ensure that it's more of a conversation than a speaker presenting to an audience.
Hear More About How to Effectively Manage and Work Remotely
Working remotely for an extended period can present unfamiliar challenges for you and your business. To learn more about ways to conduct an effective remote meeting, watch this recording of a recent web chat from Atlantic DataSystems’ parent company, Vision33. In the episode, you'll hear proven, best practices for making the most of your time while working from home.