There’s no question that virtual meetings bring people together, speed up decision making, and save money. Today’s virtual meetings let customers connect with your experts despite distance and help you feel like you’re in the same room as colleagues from around the world. Here are five ways to make your virtual meetings more productive and impactful.
More than two-thirds of business professionals engage in virtual work.
— “It’s Unclearly Defined, but Telecommuting Is Fast on the Rise,” New York Times , Mar. 2014.
1. Be authentic.
Technology makes it easier to connect with others no matter the distance. But it can also feel like a barrier when it comes to building interpersonal relationships. The key is to invest a bit of time and treat people like actual people, not just voices or faces on a screen.
You’ll get more participation if you follow these guidelines:
- Greet each participant as they enter the meeting.
- Ask about their weekend or vacation plans.
- Don’t mute your endpoint.
- Avoid side conversations.
2. Put technology to work.
Look for collaboration solutions that are easy to use so you can focus on the meeting and not on the technology. Make sure face-to-face interaction is available through video—without it, you miss important parts of the conversation like facial expressions and nonverbal feedback.
The right way to use technology:
- Use video so you can gauge reactions.
- Share content like presentations or interactive whiteboards to engage participants.
- Record meetings for people who can’t be there.
- Ensure that people can join in from any device.
Meaningful communication can take many forms: one-to-one, team meetings, all-hands, and trainings. If you ask a question and hear crickets, change your tactics.
- Address questions to specific people.
- Encourage interaction.
- Support two-way communication.
- Discourage multitasking.
75% of users say video improves collaboration and productivity. — “Aiming to Increase UC Adoption? Look to Video,” Frost & Sullivan, 2014.
4. Play fair.
When the meetings are international, someone is invariably attending during off hours. Giving people the option to participate from home via video provides them the advantages and flexibility of a face-to-face connection.
- Be sensitive to time zones so the same people don’t always have to work during off hours.
- Make it possible for people to participate from anywhere and from any device.
- Allow everyone the opportunity to give feedback.
5. Follow virtual meeting etiquette.
Whether you’re collaborating from across the globe or just from across the office, video-enabled virtual meetings offer flexibility, consistency, and a higher level of cooperation. Think of them like traditional meetings with extra benefits.
- Direct questions to people by name to cut confusion.
- Use technology that can eliminate background noise.
- Offer the flexibility that allows people to join from anywhere.
- Use technology that helps identify who is speaking.
- Use video for formal meetings and quick base touches
But remember that you’re talking to real people.