Virtual meetings are a modern flavor of regular meetings. With the help of technology, participants can meet up despite limitations like different locations, different time zones or differing schedules. Real-time virtual meetings allow participants to meet up from anywhere, at any time. And, alongside many other productivity and collaborative tools, they enhance and improve cooperation.
Virtual meetings, however, can be a challenge. They pose all the problems of regular meetings. Add to that technical difficulties and other specific issues. On the positive side, virtual meetings are great for getting things done. They require a lot less energy and waste less time than regular meetings. Until now, they’re the only solution to a complex problem.
Virtual meetings vs regular meetings
Let’s see what we’re up against. To begin with, most people find regular meetings boring and counterproductive. They feel like their time is being wasted on a session with no specific purpose. Moreover, they often experience that their contribution is unwanted or unnecessary.
Most often, regular meetings happen under the monopoly of a few voices. And everybody else merely shuts down their brains and vegetates until the meeting is over. Meanwhile, introverts end up feeling like their participation is both unwanted and uncomfortable.
But here’s the issue. Virtual meetings are a bit different. Firstly, virtual meetings are far more convenient:
- You don’t have to get everyone in the same location, physically. In the same fashion, you can run joint meetings. And have freelancers and remote workers easily pop-in.
- Virtual meetings allow you to not waste as much time. All those times you’d sit idle in a regular meeting can be put to good use. Why? Because you can still follow the meeting while doing some work on something else.
- You save time on a bunch of things. You don’t have to reach a certain location. And you don’t need to dress up. In fact, all you have to do is start the meeting. If the topics concern you, great. If not, you can keep on working. When it’s time to contribute, you can do so. And this makes you a lot more productive.
Certainly, it’s a great idea to run smart meetings. And to encourage everybody to be useful during meetings. We clearly visited some of these issues before. To say nothing of the ultimate guide to meetings.
Basic rules for virtual meetings
When running virtual meetings, you should take care of a very specific set of items. The main point here is to make virtual meetings as efficient as possible. After all, they’re already the more convenient and faster alternative to regular meetings. Here are 3 great approaches that we recommend:
1. Use collaborative software
Using something that integrates all you need into one solution is very smart. You can have chat and voice and video and file sharing dedicated to your team. Most of all, you are clear about the right way to proceed. Team members will know the right way to do things based on your solution.
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With features such as Topics by Hubgets, your team is already preparing for meetings. Without any extra work. Topics getting organized all by themselves. What’s more, you can use the Team board to get the pulse of the team. Among other things, you can know if it’s the right time for a meeting. Here’s a product tour.
2. Make virtual meetings faster
Physical meetings can be huge for information exchange. And the usual tip for physical meetings is to have an agenda. In fact, to go as far as to require full reports and prepared contributions. To engage the entire team and have all of them participate. While this ensures your meetings are loaded with information, it also has a cost. The cost is levied against overall time and attention span.
Since virtual meetings are quick by definition, perhaps it’s best if you focus on their efficacy. So, instead of spending too much time on preparations, try and cut it down to basics:
- Ask for shorter contributions. Simply ask your team to prepare shorter reports. They could still pack references to more comprehensive materials for the curious. For example, there is no point in having someone present everything about how well a plan is working out. It’s enough to have them say: “Everything is going very well with Project X. We are behind on Issue A, but we will get back on track soon.” That’s a fair assessment. That’s it.
- Compile an extended agenda. It’s a list of topics to which you should ask the team to add relevant contribution. Keep it short and simple.
- Only take necessary points, not all points. Team contributions are great. And they’re typically worthwhile. But not cutting down on team contributions will derail your meeting. And you should keep your virtual meetings.
Lastly, keep your virtual meetings short and to the point. You can be as brief as 20 minutes with a quick recess. After all, you want your virtual meetings to be as efficient as possible.
3. Use video for virtual meetings
If your meetings allow for video, you have to use it. Make your video readily available from the start. Only change this in case the whole team decides to do so. To be fair, sometimes video takes too much. Shifting from one speaker to another while watching a shared screen might be better. On the whole, however, seeing faces is important.
Seeing the faces of people that communicate with you helps you communicate better. Subtle hints and highlights are revealed face-to-face. And even through video communications, you can still pick up cues. Human communication is never just an exchange of words.
Sure, eye contact over web cams is difficult. There are several solutions, but that’s not the point. Taking turns to stare at the camera and make a good impression will still go a long way. But ultimately, seeing faces makes us understand better. Obviously, everything else about body language still applies. Involuntary micro-contractions of the facial muscles as well, and this is trainable. Even further, it makes detecting deception better than over the phone.
To clarify, this is not about detecting deception. This is about making communication efficient. And establishing trust. And team trust is crucial to teamwork. Moreover, team trust builds team resilience.
Overall, virtual meetings will be the norm for the future. Already people are collaborating from all over the world, on a variety of projects. Ultimately, your job is to stay ahead of the curb with the best of tech. And make your team as capable as possible during meetings. Especially if they are virtual meetings.