Are Your Virtual Meetings Effective Enough? | Virtual Meeting Guide

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Are Your Virtual Meetings Effective Enough? | Virtual Meeting Guide

Virtual Meeting GuideWhen the world has turned almost entirely to the virtual world, we too have but no choice to blend with the trend. I am sure you too, are trying to bring about the necessary alterations in your life. Our personal life has greater shock absorbers than the professional one; mistakes in personal life can still be overlooked at times. But when we are talking about our career, you cannot afford to take any chance. So, all those of you who are facing meetings on the virtual platform, here is your guide. Knowing how to face such interactions is pertinent but what is more important is how to make each of your virtual meeting counts.

The pandemic has hit each of us equally and in a way, forced us to bring about these changes with immediate effect. Earlier, when you had the idea of a new concept or product at your workplace, you knew the next place you would be visiting was the conference room. You not only got all the people you wanted to present the idea to in one room, but you also got to see their reactions. Yes, the body language in any corporate meeting room plays a vital role. The moment you feel a positive vibe, it acts as a catalyst to your confidence level. If by chance by the look on someone’s face, you happen to get a negative vibe, then in most cases, the one doing the presentation gets nervous and may end up messing everything up.

TOOL SELECTION – So, first things first, choose the right tool. With the world making a shift to the virtual world, people associated in building technology are working at full speed. The result hence is a plethora of online meeting apps and platforms. It is ultimately for you to decide which remote team meeting software you would like to use for the purpose.

  1. Identify the purpose: Now, how will you discern which tool is the most suited to your purpose? For this, you need to figure out what your purpose is. Whether it is a presentation, you want to show everyone or a piece of work that you want everyone on the team to work on simultaneously. Your objective could also be the putting forward of a product idea, and you would surely want to read the reactions of the others in the meeting. For each purpose, there are different software, such as screen sharing, Google Docs or video conferencing through Google Meet. Thus, your intention of the meeting ought to be the decider of the software selection.
  2. Know the capacity: Next, will be the number of people attending the meeting. Certain platforms allow only a limited number of individuals in a meeting. You, therefore, need to make sure that the app you are using caters to that many attendees.
  3. Upgrade yourself: Once you have selected the tool you want to use, it is important you know how it works. Get to know the common challenges faced in its usage and how to troubleshoot them. When you are well versed with the software, you can concentrate on your meeting purpose and avoid distractions. In case you do face a problem, you will know how to deal with it in no time.

BUILDUP FOR THE MEETING – Unlike the in-person meetings, here you do not get any real-time interaction with the people who will be attending the meeting. This kind of brief conversations gives a kind of preview to the attendees as well as helps them prepare mentally for the meeting. To not miss out on this small yet important gesture as a prep for the meeting, you have to put in extra efforts. You have to remember that when your team members interact with each other, they reach a comfort zone wherein there are able to put forward better ideas. Hence, you could create something known as a ‘virtual cooler’. This is a virtual place wherein those who will be attending the meeting can get to know each other a bit and come to talking terms.

DEVELOP THE SKILL SET OF A GUIDE – No virtual meeting is possible without a guide, and if you are the one who is organizing it, then you will have to prep yourself. These meetings are similar but not the same as the real meetings; hence, the need to inculcate special skills. In case you have not been able to make the attendees meet before the meeting, as a facilitator, you should know that it calls for an ice-breaking session. The attendees get a turn each to introduce themselves and say a little something about themselves. This eases things out a bit and consequently affects the outcome of the meeting.

HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTIVE – The reason why you are setting up this meeting ought to be clear in your head and also clearly stated to the others present at it. This sets the tone of the meeting. Remember to stick to one or two issues which are important enough for all you have invited; else it will disrupt the attentiveness of the attendees. You could choose to mention the objective along with the invite you sent to the attendees.

KEEP A TIMING SUITABLE FOR ALL– Always assign a time for such meets at a convenient time for the majority of the attendees. This is particularly essential when the members stay in entirely different time zones. It is pertinent that you take into consideration the timings of each attendee and fix on a time that is feasible for all.

SEND THE INVITES – Sending the invitations for the meeting well in advance is important. Everyone should get enough time to make arrangements. For the advantage and disadvantage of a virtual meeting is the same – it can be attended anywhere. So while you have the comfort of being a part of it anytime and anywhere, you also need to be in the proper condition. Getting an invite much ahead of time helps in prepping oneself both physically and mentally.

PREPARE THE ATTENDEES – Give clear instructions of the time at which they should log in and how they should do so. Let them know if you will be sending them a link or a code to join. Also let them know how to handle certain problems that may erupt, such as not being able to log in. Teach them how to overcome those shortcomings and join the meeting. This avoids commotion to a great extent. I am sure you would not like to be bombarded with a host of messages saying that they are not able to join the meeting. It disrupts the mental peace, which is an absolute mandate for an event like this.

GET YOUR MAN FRIDAY – Since all of this is quite new to most of us, it would not harm to have someone assist you. For instance, if there does occur some connectivity issues, he/she could help you out by taking care of those attendees and guiding them while you concentrate on the meeting. Also, at times the background noises of the attendees cause a lot of distraction which can be controlled by your aide.

BE WELL PREPARED – You must know the technical issues but it is equally vital that you as the host be absolutely up to the mark when it comes to being prepared. Keep a handwritten copy with you containing detailed notes about how you wish to conduct the meeting.

DON’T WASTE TIME – Though everyone is homebound these days, the fact is that the work has increased for all. Therefore, stick to the point, keep it short and crisp and avoid wasting time, both for the attendees and yourself. One is able to keep their concentration in a virtual event like this for no longer than 30 to 40 minutes; hence, schedule your meeting keeping that in mind. If you cannot but need a longer time, take breaks in between, to help them get refreshed.

LEARN TO ENGAGE YOUR ATTENDEES – The success of a virtual meeting will only come with you are able to hold the attention of the attendees. For this, you will have to consider your physical appearance too.

  1. Dress well, just as you would for a real-time meeting. Avoid distracting clothes or jewellery.
  2. Speak articulately, be clear and properly paced in your delivery of words. Do not hurry; people may not be able to comprehend and thereby lose interest in it. Make sure it is interactive and not a monologue.
  3. Don’t keep it verbal constantly, cut the monotony by being animated, use your hands to gesture things while talking. Otherwise, it becomes like a news channel where the newsreader is reading all the news with a ‘poker face’.
  4. Use pictures or presentations to draw their attention.
  5. And finally don’t forget the cherry on the cake, your smile. It does give a positive vibe to all and binds them together.

REMEMBER THE ETTIQUETTES  – Being well mannered is needed, despite it being a virtual meeting. Following the etiquettes will be the same for both the organizer and the attendee.

  1. Give a chance to everyone to put forward their opinion; if someone has not spoken, call out to him/her and ask for the input. This helps in attaching equal importance to all and keeping them interested.
  2. Give your acknowledgement of having heard with a nod. In case, the meeting tends to get very long, take breaks.
  3. Do not eat or drink during the meeting.
  4. Keep your microphone off till the time everyone has settled in, instead of covering it with your hand.
  5. Be courteous to one and all. Remember to wish everyone, both while you enter and while you exit. When you see others have arrived before you, don’t just barge in, signal with a wave, when you get an acknowledgement then wish them.
  6. Look at the camera while you talk and not elsewhere; especially when either you are the one who is talking or you particularly are being talked to.
  7. Wait for your turn to speak always, do not interrupt others talking. Avoid parallel conversations.
  8. If you are an attendee, you too should wear proper clothes and minimalistic jewellery. Nothing distractive is a welcome thing at this platform.

TAKE NOTES – Just as the in-person meeting, it is important that you take notes about whatever happens at the meeting so that you can later work on the decisions that have been taken. Whether you have organized the meeting or attended it, keeping notes is a good habit. Especially at a time like this when you are away from your workplace, a lot of things may just skip your mind. But having a document with all details of the meeting will help you avoid missing out on any crucial information. This will also be helpful with the follow-up.

SIGN OFF PROPERLY – Do not hurry into abruptly ending the meeting; instead, close it. Summarize, all the essential points, ask for last views or opinions, give a little heads up of how you intend to move next. Also, let them know that you will carry out a follow-up with them. After you convey all of this, then it is time to sign off.

Virtual meetings are here to be; you can rest assured on not getting back to the standard way of life any time soon. Hence, the only alternative for you is to mould yourself into the new model of life, which is the Virtual world. Thus, if you have been conducting and attending the virtual meeting and still not getting the desired results, it is probably because you must have missed out on one or the other points I have mentioned in the above blog. So, go through this one more time and the next time, you enter a virtual meeting room you can be confident of the effectiveness of your meeting. All the Best!

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