Video conferencing has been a regular part of the business for years, but it has never been quite too widely used and necessary until recent events forced everyone out of our offices, keeping us locked away in our own homes.
There are plenty of benefits to moving meetings online but due to the fact that many of us simply aren’t used to this new format, they can easily go out of control. Below are a few ways to help you keep your virtual meetings under control and on track.
The first thing to do in preparation for an online meeting is to test all the hardware and software you will be using. Make sure you relay this to any participants as they will also have to test their internet connection, their computer, their headphones, and their microphone.
Next, you’ll want to create an agenda for the upcoming meeting. This agenda can be time-specific or not but they are incredibly useful to ensure you cover everything you want to. A good agenda should include, but is not limited to, the following:
● What the meeting is about
● A list of topics you want to cover
● The roles and responsibilities of each participant
● The overall objective you want to achieve
● A list of ground rules, for example, all participants must use headphones, etc…
Once the agenda has been made, be sure to send it out to any participants in advance so that they have a chance to look over it before the meeting.
Don’t go for too long
Meetings can be a hard place to stay focused in at the best of times and this is only made worse when we are in the comfort of our own homes. If your meeting runs for too long you will likely notice an impact on the overall productivity and attention spans of any members. To avoid any negative impacts, try to keep your virtual meetings around 40 minutes long or less. To achieve this, you can add a note to your meeting agenda to try and keep general chatter to before or after the meeting so that it does not interfere with business.
Alternatively, you can try even shorter meetings, for example, 10-15 minutes to ensure that even those with low attention spans can stay focused.
Prevent possible distractions
Since most, if not all, of your meetings participants, will be at home for the duration of the conference, it is very possible that there will be certain distractions that will affect the other members in the call. These can be anything from on-screen notifications, things going on in a participant’s background, or even ambient noise coming through someone’s microphone.
To avoid any distraction coming from things in your background, most video conferencing apps like zoom, allow you to set your own background using a virtual green screen, you can learn more about zoom green screen here. To avoid distractions from background noise coming through microphones, make sure that every member in the meeting is using headphones to prevent echoing and ideally a dedicated mic like one on a headset or a pair of headphones.
Use the technology available
Since you are not online, you can take advantage of the technology that comes with virtual conferencing. This includes things like screen-sharing, virtual whiteboards, and many others that make it easier to share information while keeping the meeting engaging with a positive vibe.
Remember to take breaks
Since most of us are now working from home, our former work to break balance may be a little different. Be sure to take breaks if your meeting goes on for too long. This will allow people to refocus themselves on the task at hand without their mind wandering to menial tasks that need to be done around the house. Breaks during a long meeting will also improve the overall mood of anyone participating.