Virtual meetings are becoming an increasingly common aspect when it comes to professional communication for most companies- startups and Small Businesses as well as established businesses. Many employees, board members and stakeholders may not be in the same geographic location, but important updates, meetings and strategic discussions often take place online or via video-conferencing. Often, it becomes much more efficient to exchange ideas, and promote better involvement and communications through virtual meetings.
However, there are some challenges that may arise in communicating remotely. Here are some tips on how you can maintain etiquette and successfully execute a virtual meeting:
1. Have a dry run before the meeting begins: It can be very frustrating for participants and can also use up a lot of time if the audio is faulty or if the tool you use for the meeting does not work. Conduct a dry run 15 minutes before the meeting begins to ensure that you are able to connect properly, dial-in successfully, and mute participants or allow them to raise questions via the software.
2. Limit the number of participants: Having more than 10-15 attendees can potentially cause chaos and lead to a lack of clarity for the participants on the thread of discussion. If there is absolutely a need to involve a lot of participants, ensure that there is a proper structure to the meeting that allows for all participants to have an equal opportunity to contribute their inputs, and go turn by turn.
3. Avoid interruptions: Some participants may be dialing in from home, so it is important to ensure that you are in a room that is away from any noise. If at home, try to sit by yourself in a room that doesn’t allow for noise to be audible over the call.
At work, ensure that the volume is turned up properly and that you don’t move any furniture noisily around during the call as it can be a source of irritation for the person at the other end. When you aren’t speaking, using the mute option for yourself also helps.
4. Keep in mind your tone of voice: Unless it’s a video conference, the absence of non-verbal cues makes it essential for you to be aware of your tone of voice while you speak. Be clear and concise in communicating. Avoid going into convoluted sentences when you speak, to avoid any confusion in case the audio is not clear for any participant. In addition, identify yourself when you begin speaking.
5. Be careful when screen-sharing: Having emails or IM windows pop up randomly when you are sharing your screen can be very annoying and distracting for attendees. Disable email notifications and log out of your chat application before you begin sharing your screen. Close all unnecessary applications apart from any note-taking apps and keep only your virtual meeting in focus before sharing your screen.
6. Have a clear plan: Begin the meeting first by conducting a roll-call to confirm the attendees’ presence. Then go over all the agenda items and other discussion points at the outset so that participants are clear about the topics that will be covered. At the end, call out the owners for each action item, POCs etc. as a recap of the meeting. Following the above guidelines would greatly help reduce distractions, chaos and misunderstandings In order to make virtual meetings smooth, organized and hassle-free.