With the number of distributed teams growing and flexible working on the rise, teams are looking for a better way to stay connected across locations. Fortunately, virtual meetings pose a great way to achieve this, both cheaply and productively. Read on for our top virtual meeting management tips, to ensure your virtual meetings are a productive use of time, every time.
The Case for Virtual Meeting Management
Certify estimates that US businesses spend a whopping $111.7billion on domestic business travel every single year, plus a further $31.6billion traveling internationally. With productive virtual meetings, these costs can be massively reduced. By holding meetings over a call instead, you can avoid travel costs and save employee time by enabling team members to join in an instant.
Plus, virtual meetings can pose a unique opportunity to engage with discussion topics in a more dynamic and productive way. For example, attendees can hold a video call while concurrently entering plans into a collaborative mind map, as shown below.
4 Simple Tips for Effective Virtual Meeting Management
In order for your virtual meetings to be productive, they need to be effectively managed. Read on for our 4 simple tips for effective virtual meeting management.
1. Make your meetings personal: keep your cameras turned on
Since everyone on the call will feel separated by distance, start by asking attendees to turn their cameras on. This can help to humanize the call and make you feel less distant.
Seeing attendees physically will also help you to manage the virtual meeting effectively. For starters, it makes it easier to check that people are staying focused and not scrolling through their phone. After all, with the camera turned off, no one would know otherwise.
Secondly, importantly, you can learn a lot about how the meeting is going by the facial expressions and body language of attendees. With the camera on, you can see whether attendees are nodding heads and remaining engaged, or rolling eyes in disagreement. Either way, you’re in a much better position to respond appropriately and steer the meeting towards its aim.
2. Impose a ban on mobiles and multitasking
When meeting virtually, many of us will face the temptation to respond to a quick email or Slack notification. After all, responding to a quick request while staying engaged is a walk in the park, right? Unfortunately not.
Citing research from the American Psychological Association, Harvard Professor Francesca Gino explains: “Recent neuroscience research makes the point quite clear on this issue. Multitasking is simply a mythical activity. We can do simple tasks like walking and talking at the same time, but the brain can’t handle multitasking. In fact, studies show that a person who is attempting to multitask takes 50% longer to accomplish a task and he or she makes up to 50% more mistakes.”
To keep your virtual meeting productive, begin the meeting with a few quick meeting ground rules, including a ban on other devices and multitasking. You can make the request jovial and cite the APA’s research, in case there are any attendees who stand by their superhuman multitasking powers…
3. Speak slowly and steadily
When using a video-conferencing tool for virtual meeting management, it’s important that you speak a little slower than you would during in-person meetings.
Susan Colaric, assistant vice president for Instructional Technology at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida, explains that due to most software having at least a slight delay, all attendees should speak slowly and raise a hand when they have something to add:
“Video-conference meetings should actually move at a slightly slower pace than a typical meeting due to a two to three-second delay for most systems to communicate,” Colaric told Inc. “If you’re leading the meeting, make sure there are sufficient pauses after asking a question. If you are a participant, bring attention to yourself before addressing the group by signaling with your hand or saying “question” or “comment” and then waiting a couple seconds before continuing.”
4. Ensure accountability with clear notes and follow-ups
Good note-taking is something that all meetings can benefit from. However, this is particularly the case for virtual meetings, where it’s vital to record consensus and decisions made.
During an in-person meeting, you might turn to a whiteboard. However, when meeting virtually, there are a plethora of tools available to aid you in taking great notes and visualizing ideas.
A virtual mind mapping tool, like MindMeister, can assist in taking meeting minutes, as well as visualizing all ideas and plans. You can then share this mind map, including all key decisions, onward actions, and who’s accountable for what, as a follow-up after the meeting via email.
To ensure accountability, you can then turn these plans into actionable, assigned tasks in a transparent task management tool. A Kanban-style tool that enables you to track tasks transparently from creation to completion is ideal for this.
So those are our tips for effective virtual meeting management. If you have any of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!