Just because your employees are working from the comfort of their own homes doesn’t mean meetings are automatically less soul-sucking than face-to-face meetings. Online meetings make it possible to interact with remote employees without the hassle of gathering everyone up, printing out agendas, and buying coffee to keep people alert. However, they can be just as prone to poor productivity, if not more.
If there’s anything that you can learn from virtual training on business management, it’s how to make meetings as productive as they can be–whether online or face-to-face. For this article, we’re delving into some of the best practices for making virtual meetings productive despite the challenges present.
1. Prepare a clear agenda
Keeping meetings well-structured is one of the best ways to avoid production delays. As with face-to-face meetings, prepare an agenda with a clear purpose and an outline complete with everything you have to go over. Then, distribute the agenda to meeting attendees so that they know what to expect and can prepare what is needed from them. It is best to send the agenda a day before the meeting and set up automated meeting reminders on your business calendar.
2. Designate a moderator
Meetings tend to go off track, with so many people being part of the conversation. The next thing you know, you’ve spent half an hour talking about something that’s not even on the agenda. To prevent people from getting distracted, appoint a moderator for each meeting. The moderator will be responsible for facilitating the meeting, keeping everyone focused on the topic at hand, and steering the conversation back on track whenever necessary.
3. Reduce distractions
Distractions are great productivity killers, especially during online meetings. To avoid distractions, ask participants to keep their mics muted unless they have to speak. At the same time, request that they sit in a well-illuminated room with non-noisy backgrounds and with no other people around. Moreover, make it a rule that participants cannot interact with their children or pets to keep other participants from getting distracted. If they must do something that’s potentially distracting, ask them to turn off their camera.
4. Time-cap meetings
Setting time limits helps everyone stay on track since there is only so much time before the meeting ends. Depending on your agenda, set an appropriate time limit for each talking point or goal. Similarly, set a time limit for the entire meeting, and don’t forget to praise your employees when they don’t go overboard.
5. Have everyone prepare beforehand
Technical issues like mics not working, cameras not turning on, or meeting software running too slow can cause unnecessary delays during the meeting. To avoid these problems from eating up your time, ask everyone to prepare for the meeting at least fifteen minutes before it starts. In this way, participants will have their systems and accessories up and running before the meeting starts.
6. Eliminate report-outs
Reporting can consume a huge chunk of time during a meeting, and it’s oftentimes wholly unnecessary. Avoid wasting time with report-outs by sending any relevant information that participants need to know before the meeting. In this way, everyone is on the same page and won’t have to ask questions that the pre-meeting report-out can answer.
7. Discourage multitasking
Multitasking can be a great way to get more things done in a given amount of time. However, that is not applicable during meetings. When you’re meeting with employees, everyone has to be mentally present to absorb the things that are being discussed. Too many online meetings finish with participants more lost than before because they spent half the time doing something else. Don’t let this be the case for your virtual meetings.
Start by verbally discouraging employees from multitasking. Then, employ measures that will keep participants engaged, such as asking everyone to turn on their cameras, having the moderator calling on people during the meeting, and rotating meeting tasks such as writing down minutes, tracking action items, or re-checking the agenda.
8. Share the minutes
After the meeting, you must share the minutes with each participant. This allows them to go over the action points, review the agenda, and further understand what was discussed during the meeting. Moreover, they can revisit these notes whenever they need to without asking other participants of the meeting.
Virtual meetings can be just as effective as face-to-face meetings, but they are also prone to poor productivity. With these strategies, however, you can avoid wasting precious time and increase everyone’s engagement throughout the entire meeting–thereby improving the team’s productivity as a whole.