A virtual meeting is unlikely to replace in-person meetings entirely, but with rapid expansion and developing technologies, companies are cutting costs conducting virtual meetings while team members are geographically apart. While effective meetings generally follow a similar guideline, doing virtual work in the online meeting room can present a unique set of challenges — here are 3 bits of meeting advice to host the best virtual meetings.

1) Just like with in-person meetings, prepare virtual work before your conference call

person sculpting clay with their hands on a wooden tableThis may apply to meetings in general, but a virtual meeting can be more susceptible to a loss of focus or productivity if team members are just reading text to each other, or are hearing about a subject for the first time. Assign a bit of homework, and make sure that the agenda is distributed well before the start so that team members can adjust their mindset and develop some momentum going into the virtual conference call.

Preparation also includes knowing the technical aspects of the online meeting room. Make sure the meeting can start despite a technical difficulty, and be resourceful enough to give advice to team members that have technical questions.

2) Virtual Meeting Etiquette is still important for virtual work

glass of wine on dinner table with fancy china symbolizes virtual meetingTeam meeting etiquette is more important in a virtual meeting room than a normal meeting. Here are some rules that must be enforced: ban multitasking, if team members are doing something else or have a side conversation while the meeting commences it renders the conference call useless. Two ways to approach this problem are to toggle video on and off, and to mute unnecessary callers.

Allow each team member a chance to speak, focusing is already hard to maintain in a regular meeting, team meeting etiquette must be extra engaging when it’s virtual work or else productivity is at risk. Create an inclusive atmosphere where team members feel free to speak out without the fear of criticism or interruptions.

3) Your online meeting room should not be “work-only”

virtual meeting with three men in an online conference call roomNormally when an in-person meeting is over the team members gather around the water cooler to discuss what they like and don’t like about what took place. This can be unattainable in video calls since attendees are physically apart, but is important for the team to build trust and chemistry.

There are 2 ways to approach this: one is to formalise it; have everyone provide their feedback about the meeting without consequences in order to promote the transparency within the team. The other is the informal approach, as most water cooler talk is. Log off as the moderator after the meeting and allow team members to talk among themselves for 10 more minutes. Unrelated dialogue and feedback can develop work relationships and enhance future team meeting etiquette.

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