Face-to-face meetings are beginning to take a back seat as virtual meetings are becoming ever so prominent. This is due to a couple factors:
- More and more teams are becoming virtual, where players are found all around the world
- Clients and partners are global
- Convenience of having meetings from the comfort of your own chair
- Technology is advancing in a way that makes virtual meetings easier than ever
Virtual meetings can become your best friend, so long as you understand a couple best practices:
Multitasking – You’re sitting in the comfort of your own chair, with everything including your desktop, email, web-browser, cell-phone and day planner at your disposal. This makes it ever so tempting to multi-task during your meeting, especially when things get dull. Just because you’re behind a screen doesn’t mean you can youtube cat videos, google what to make for dinner that evening, and organize your weekly schedule all while thinking no one will notice. If it wouldn’t be appropriate to do in an in-person meeting, it’s not okay to do during in a virtual meeting. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re invisible behind your screen – it’s extremely easy to spot out a member that’s distracted by other tasks.
Treat the virtual meeting as if you were in a face-to-face meeting – Introductions and briefings are still important! If a member on the call hasn’t met another member, initiate a quick virtual handshake. Start the meeting off with a short description of its purpose so that everyone is on the same page. Further, many virtual meeting platforms make it easy to share screens. If you’re speaking about a specific item or document, share it so that everyone can see what you’re speaking about.
Engage – Just as we’ve seen with the ease of multitasking, distractions do occur, therefore it is important to engage everyone on the call! Speaking over video can become robotic as you don’t necessarily feel the human interaction as you would in a face-to-face meeting. Talk with the same level of enthusiasm and engagement as you would if they were all there in the room with you. Talk with everyone, not at the screen!
Audio and Video – If you don’t have the option of sharing video, consider rescheduling the meeting until you have access to audio and video. Unless of course the meeting is one-on-one and is simple enough to hold over the phone. The point of a virtual meeting is to create a sense of human interaction. With video, you see very important expressions and emotions that you otherwise don’t experience with just audio.
Agenda – One of the most common complaints is that meetings can quickly become a waste of time. Avoid this by setting a specific agenda as you would for any in-person meeting. It is found that following an agenda is far easier in a virtual setting, as you avoid distractions and off topic conversations that are inevitable during in-person meetings.
Technology has the power of making the workplace far more productive! Virtual meetings can save time and money, and even increase collaboration efficiency. But before you take on this virtual alternative, make sure you understand the dos and don’ts to ensure smooth sailing.