Today, companies all around the world are embracing remote working environments. Distributed teams are having to consider how to build good working relationships with remote colleagues and how to collaborate effectively, including via online meetings.
Fortunately, distributed working doesn’t need to lead to disorganized meetings. With some preparation and a game plan, your team can have online meetings that are just as productive and collaborative as getting everyone in the same room.
Here is a checklist to have an effective online meeting.
Define a clear goal. Select participants. Decide the form of the meeting (in person or phone or web conference). Set date and start and end time. Distribute agenda and provide supporting material in time.
Demand that everyone is prepared. Designate one person to take notes during the meeting. Consider rotating this function.
Sign in to your meeting with your fellow hosts and moderators. Check your microphone and speakers.
Verify your meeting settings, including any attendee settings (muting/camera off) you want to have in place. Review your meeting flow and itinerary one last time.
To avoid distractions, make sure all your participants are sitting in a closed and well-illuminated room with a clear background. Also, it's better to use headphones and a collar mic instead of your laptop's mic to ensure clear communication.
Go around the virtual meeting room and ask everyone to introduce themselves. This acts as an icebreaker and sets the tone for everyone contributing to the call.
Be sure to aside time to include everyone in various points, especially if some are nervous to speak up.
Ask different people for their opinion, this helps to keep the meeting inclusive.
To get more engagement, you can do activities like brainstorming and sticky voting. Both of these activities can be done online using different free, simple to use, and low-cost tools, such as BoardThing and Linoit applications.
No cell phones. Demand proper preparation. No side conversations. Attendance means participation.
It is OK to have different opinions, but communicate a unified decision outward. Make sure tasks are executed.
Allocate 5 or 10 minutes at the end of the meeting to evaluate how it went and what you need to improve. You can use the same methods you would use to evaluate any meeting or training. Here’s an example of using virtual sticky notes to evaluate meetings using two different methods, “Sad, Mad, Glad” and “Plus/Delta.
Make sure you discuss any deliverables needed and assign responsibility for them to respective teammates. Also, agree on when each deliverable is due and if (and when) you need another meeting to move things forward.
Distribute minutes as soon as possible. Communicate tasks to task owners. Track tasks and follow-up if not completed by due date. File minutes in a place where you can easily find them.
Smile. Dress as you would for an in-person meeting. Speak more slowly than you would in person. Speak with your hands to encourage attendees to look at you and make eye contact. Frequently ask if anyone has any questions or additional thoughts. If your meeting is long, take breaks. Use additional icebreakers or icebreaker jokes to engage attendees who stay at their desks.