3 Key Components of a Successful Remote Meeting
With remote work now a necessity for many, it’s important to be aware of how to make your online meetings as productive as possible.
The Covid-19 crisis has thrust large parts of the global workforce into the realm of remote work. Lockdowns across the world have resulted in countless professionals from a wide range of industries having to adapt to the situation and continue working from home.
This has inevitably resulted in a dramatic increase in the use of remote meetings as the main means of team communication and collaboration. For many professionals, particularly freelancers or others who had already been working remotely, this is nothing new.
However for people who are not used to conducting meetings through a screen, the transition may have inevitably been more difficult. Despite the dramatic advances video conferencing has made over recent years, it is still far from the same as sitting in the same room as the people you are talking with.
We have quite a lot of experience with remote work, so we thought it would be helpful to write an article outlining some of the best practices for optimizing your remote meetings and collaboration.
1. Choose the right technology
If you’ve had to have a video conference or meeting in the last year, the chances are it was through Zoom. The company and its software have surged in use (and value) since the onset of the crisis, and that is due to its ability to host large numbers of people on a call.
Although the company has been dogged by privacy concerns in the past, and it does cost money in order to be able to host meetings of three or more people for more than 40 minutes – Zoom has risen to prominence for a number of reasons.
It is easily accessible to most people, it works on a range of different software systems, and it has a relatively effective system of using sound to identify and magnify the person speaking.
Other options for video conferencing include Google Meet and Team Viewer: we suggest checking out each and deciding what will suit you and your team best.
2. Develop protocols as a team
Many managers and business owners have come to the unfortunate realization that keeping participants engaged and focused during video conferences is harder than in a physical meeting. Some people may dominate the discussion, others might use it as a time to multi-task, while others might ‘zone out’ when others are talking.
For this reason, it’s important to develop some protocols to stick to as a team. By giving your team an input on what these protocols are, they can then ‘own’ them and will be more likely to adhere to them.
Protocols can include:
- Setting an allotted time limit for each person to speak and give updates,
- Assigning a facilitator that will be in charge of asking people to speak and to ensure that the meeting follows the schedule and covers everything within the time parameters.
- Creating recurring tasks for each meeting, for example for each participant to list something they have learnt in the last week. This helps to create structure to meetings, and for participants to do a little bit of planning ahead of time.
- Agree on a set of rules for each meeting. It’s usually better to use cameras when possible, as this boosts communication and creates more of an engagement. So if you expect that from your team, it’s something you should discuss beforehand, though keep in mind that sometimes internet speeds make audio-only calls more feasible.
3. Define and communicate a schedule of topics
One of the most difficult obstacles to having a successful remote meeting is that they can become dominated by one person, which has the effect of diminishing the engagement and concentration of others.
A good way to try and overcome this is to have someone in charge of developing a list of topics that will be discussed in each call, and who will be in charge of covering each topic. This list can be distributed to your team a few days prior to the meeting, so that everyone has time to prepare the information they will be expected to discuss. If you use Google Docs, then everyone can add to, edit and access the same document.
Some meetings inevitably need to be long, but we must emphasize that when it comes to video conferencing, it’s best to be as efficient as possible. So having time limits on how long each topic should be discussed can help move meetings along.
Of course, this doesn’t need to be too rigid, but it should be emphasized. And also, don’t forget to have a little bit of chit chat in the beginning to ‘break the ice’ and get everyone comfortable, before jumping into the predefined list of important issues to discuss!