The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new “normal” in many aspects of life. Having no choice but to find alternatives for a variety of everyday activities, technology has eased the transition in many cases.
Remote work has become a trend across the country and the globe as the workforce strives to continue moving while looking out for the health of society at large.
With many face-to-face meetings now being held virtually, use of online tools for meetings is skyrocketing. No matter what tool you use, the technology alone isn’t the solution. Here are some tips from the NST team for ways you can keep your meeting on track, ensure a productive dialogue and accomplish business objectives.
Provide an agenda in advance
When a meeting has structure, it’s more likely the conversation will stay on track. Prepare an agenda outlining how the progression of the conversation should evolve. While keeping it brief to not overload meeting attendees, include substantive information so the framework of the meeting is clear. Send this agenda out one to three days before the meeting (depending on the urgency of the gathering) so attendees can digest the information and be prepared to participate.
Set expectations of engagement
When sending out the agenda, let your attendees know what you are expecting of them. Whether the meeting is informational, a brainstorm or a planning meeting, let the participants know what you are expecting and how they can meet that expectation. By providing this notice ahead of time, they can prepare ideas and content to share to ensure a quality discussion. If it is an open dialogue, include some discussion starters to get people’s thought processes moving to avoid crickets in the first few minutes of the meeting.
Address meeting attendees
If the online platform or software that you are using does not display the names of those in the virtual meeting or you are new to video conferencing groups, ask that attendees create their own name card so you can address them by first name to keep your interactions personal.
Be prepared to call people out on their area of expertise or knowledge
As a facilitator of the meeting, don’t be afraid to address attendees by name to ask their thoughts if the meeting falls silent while participants wait for others to respond. We see this happen during in-person meetings and it can be exacerbated virtually when people are sitting behind a computer screen. Don’t be afraid to call on people for their insights if you notice they haven’t been speaking or if you know they have experience or expertise on the topic at hand.
Set your team up for success
Working remotely is often a stark environmental contrast from the office. In addition to ensuring teams have the technology needed to do their jobs, motivate your internal team with guidance and resources on how to make the most out of their stay-at-home office while maintaining professionalism.
Even after we head back to our offices, virtual meetings will continue to be a way of collaborating. Virtual meetings don’t have to mean a reduction in discussion quality. With these tips and good facilitation, we believe virtual meetings can be an important tool to help you thrive during these trying times and into the future. If your organization is in need of tips and tricks on how to perfect virtual meetings contact us – we can set up a video chat. 🙂