As a fully remote company we rarely have meetings face to face, indeed most of our work is completed virtually. Over time we have become more experienced and knowledgeable on how to make virtual meetings work for all participants, and we share some of these tips here.
"According to statistics 93% of communication is non-verbal. Some of this is due to tone of voice, but 55% the communication is via body language"
According to statistics 93% of communication is non-verbal. Some of this is due to tone of voice, but 55% the communication is via body language. Whatever the percentages, we need to see each other to communicate in the best way and to feel part of a team. Where possible we always use video for meetings, with video being available on most devices and computers it is unusual for companies not to have that option.
If one participant is attending via video, all participants should attend separately via video
Have you ever been in a meeting where you were the only person attending remotely, with everyone else attending in a meeting room together? We have never found these types of meeting very positive, and the lonely individual who attends remotely ends up feeling excluded from the team. They are even in some more extreme cases sometimes completely forgotten about. This is often one of the key reasons that after a few attempts at a virtual meeting, the group decides that virtual meetings are not not right for their organisation or group and they give up.
In order to level all participants, every individual should attend the meeting remotely if one person does. Participants can usually easily attend the meeting at their desk with a pair of good quality headphones, or find a quiet space in the building to attend. If this isn’t possible, then a second best option is to just invite the virtual attendee for the part of the meeting that they are needed for.
Ensure you have the right technology
Good video technology is key, as are a decent set of headphones with a built in microphone. We always suggest using headphones for virtual meetings, it really improves the audio quality of the meeting for everyone. We haven’t tried every option out there, but we have tried a few that have really worked and these are noted below.
- Sennheiser, bluetooth or corded
- Apple AirPods
Other video options that have been recommended but not tried by us are GoToMeetings and Google Hangouts. We have also tried Microsoft Teams, but we do not recommend it as we’ve never enjoyed as much success with it as with the other options available.
Organise them well
Ensure that agendas are sent out in advance with all other relevant documentation. People need time to read these during normal working hours before they attend, so you need to ensure they are sent out a few days before at the very latest. In addition it is a significant time saver for all attendees to attach the agenda and all documentation to the calendar invite.
Give people time to chat for a few minutes at the start of a meeting. Meeting and greeting is a vital part of how we work, ensure all new faces are introduced as well. We put a few minutes aside at the start of all our agendas, helping to make sure we run on time from the start.
Stick to time. Meetings can easily over-run unnecessarily if you allow them to.
If a meeting is important enough to attend, and you are willing to give up other important work time to be there, then be fully present. When we multitask, we don’t fully absorb what is happening. If something is important enough to take your focus away from the meeting, then consider excusing yourself for a few minutes to deal with the issue.