Working from home, while it sounds like a dream come true, is actually initially much harder than most people realize. Switching from a regular office to suddenly drastically cutting down on the communication with your co-workers is something that most people are not used to and will likely struggle with as they first make the transition. In an attempt you help you prepare yourself and your team for life working from home, below are 5 tips for your virtual meetings.
Prepare some guidelines
Similarly to how most offices have a code of conduct for general behavior, a short list of guidelines for any virtual communication will help maintain a certain level of professionalism while reducing distractions. These guidelines can be anything from outlining certain technology settings to reminding people of their individual tasks and responsibilities and will not only help to keep things professional but will also reduce delays that could otherwise be caused by confusion.
Test and use the technology available
When communicating with people virtually it is vital that you test all the equipment you plan to use ahead of time. You may have experienced this in the past when one member is having issues with their camera or microphone, it delays the entire meeting and sets it off on a negative note. To avoid any embarrassing and frustrating situations, make sure that you and everyone attending the meeting have tested their internet connection, camera, and microphone prior to joining.
Additionally, you can use the technology available today to help share information and even to keep up a professional look from your home with the use of virtual backgrounds. If you are using Zoom you can set a custom background to hide an untidy home or even people in the background that could cause distractions, for our favorite service, access Hello Backgrounds virtual backgrounds here! Other features you can use to your advantage include screen sharing to efficiently share information with one or more individuals, and virtual whiteboards that can be used to brainstorm and discuss ideas together.
Remember the basics
While not always necessary in face to face meetings, agendas are an important tool in making virtual meetings run smoothly and efficiently. Whether you wish to make the agenda time-sensitive is up to you but having a basic layout of the meeting will help keep things on track and will stop you from running out of time without having covered everything you planned for. Your agenda should include but is not limited to the following:
- The reason for the meeting
- The topics you wish to cover
- The intended goal of the meeting
Another basic concept that is worth implementing during a virtual meeting is to have a mediator. It is very easy to start talking over one another and causing confusion over a video call so a mediator should be used to keep everything under control and ensure that everyone is able to speak freely and uninterrupted. Most conferencing applications allow the host to mute and unmute individual users so it is a good idea for the host to take on the role of meeting mediator.
Keep interacting with each other
One of the downsides to virtual meetings is that awkward silences can be far more prevalent since you do not physically have someone in front of you. This can lead to an award situation but can also cause the overall communication to suffer as some people do not feel comfortable breaking a silence and so may keep information to themselves that they would otherwise share. The chat mediator should watch out for silences and keep people interacting with one another for the duration of the meeting.
Don’t go on too long
Meetings can be boring at the best of times but when you are sitting at home, a place that you are used to relaxing in, you may find yourself getting distracted far easier than usual. In order to keep everyone focused and engaged, try to keep all virtual meetings under 45 minutes and ideally work in a short break for anything that long to give people a chance to refocus on the task at hand.
Finally, always try to end your meeting on a positive note, now more than ever people need positivity in their lives so to keep morale and productivity to a maximum, make an effort to get everyone smiling before closing the meeting.