Before the pandemic rudely interrupted all our lives, virtual meetings comprised a relatively small minority in the business world. Once COVID hit us with a vengeance, everything went virtual, and suddenly everyone was scrambling to figure out not only the best way to communicate with their team but also the most effective way to run those meetings.
After three years of Zoom meetings, certain best practices for virtual meetings have risen. These are the lessons we’ve learned over the past three years, which we now pass on to you.
Tips for virtual meetings you need to internalize
Plan your meeting agenda
This one is good advice for any meeting, but it’s doubly important in the virtual space, as it helps keep everyone on task in a more distraction-prone environment. An efficient meeting is a meeting that’s organized. Sending out advance copies of the meeting agenda to the other attendees will help everyone stay on point and give everyone an idea of what to expect in terms of topics.
A good agenda outlines the objective of the meeting as well as the key points to be covered and any sub-topics that may also need to be covered. Let’s face it, if you can’t answer the question “why are we having this meeting” in a couple of simple sentences, you probably shouldn’t be having the meeting.
In addition, it’s also good form to include how long you expect the meeting to take— even a hard cut-off time—and who will be responsible for fielding any questions on the topics at hand.
This’ll enable all participants to join focused, which can help lessen any off-topic discussions. Second, it ensures that the meeting won’t drag on endlessly, especially if you set a firm end time. Lastly, it creates a record of what was discussed so it can be referred back to at a later date if needed.
Have your key points available
The key points of a meeting should be goals you hope to achieve in the meeting or directly related to achieving those goals. That'll help keep your meeting streamlined and ensure efficacy from both you and your team.
As important as ensuring your key points are written out is having them immediately at hand to refer to them as needed. This will also help keep you on-task. And, to reduce the time needed to look up those points—and further keep the meeting streamlined—a virtual teleprompter app like VODIUM can be used.
VODIUM allows you to input all your key points—and the entire agenda if need be—into the teleprompter, which you can then place over the main screen of the virtual meeting. All the meeting’s notes and objectives will be in front of you while you facilitate the meeting and allows for quick browsing of the points without ever having to look away from the camera.
Check your tech beforehand
We’ve all been in those meetings. The meeting begins and something goes wrong with the meeting host: they can’t connect, their webcam fries, or their audio cuts in and out. A well-planned meeting devolves into chaos as they scramble to diagnose the problem. All the while, the rest of your team sits there, getting progressively more agitated or bored, starting to wonder why they even showed up for this disaster.
These are the type of nightmare scenarios that come about when you don’t check your tech beforehand.
Allow yourself a chunk of time before the meeting begins to make sure all your cables are connected, your webcam drivers are up to date, and your microphone is functioning. It’s also good to hop into the meeting early to ensure that everything is working correctly in terms of software and connection speed.
One thing we suggest as well is appointing a co-host before the meeting starts. If you do encounter technical difficulties during the meeting, your co-host can take over and continue as seamlessly as possible. They can also fix the issue behind the scenes.
Be prepared for distractions
Virtual meetings, almost by definition, will lack a bit of professionalism compared to in-person meetings because most people will be signing in from home. What this means for your meeting is that the propensity for distractions is increased, both for you and the other members of your team.
You should do everything you can to minimize the distractions that may naturally occur during the meeting. Shut the door to your office. Explain to other members of your household—including pets—that you’ll be unavailable for the duration of the upcoming meeting. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer so they don’t distract you during the meeting. Ask your fellow participants to do the same.
Another thing to consider is deciding on a muting policy beforehand. The mute button can be a powerful tool in cutting out sudden distracting noises—such as a blender or a passing garbage truck—from certain video feeds. It can also be useful to keep your co-workers on-point by limiting who can speak at what point, rather than having everyone able to talk at once.
All this being said, distractions are going to occur. Be ready to take action to bring the meeting back on point after the distraction has passed and to recapture the momentum you may have lost.
Make your meetings short and sweet
Nobody likes a long meeting. Long meetings can induce feelings of dread and listlessness in an employee or co-worker to the point that they impact productivity.
A recent poll of CEOs by CNBC shows that many companies are looking to drastically reduce the length of meetings, down to even 15 minutes at a time, and are seeing the stress levels of their employees decrease and their engagement increase as a result.
Several of the points already mentioned can be used to shorten the length needed to conduct an efficient and effective meeting.
Preparing beforehand can engage the participants and get them focused on the tasks at hand before the camera ever even turns on. Ensuring that you have the key points available—and committing to keeping the schedule—can force the meeting to stay on track.
Another factor is pacing the meeting once it’s started. All the preparation in the world won’t help you if you stumble through the key points or have to keep bouncing back and forth between topics because you forgot to cover a specific point.
A teleprompter app like VODIUM can help with this through its manual and auto-scrolling features. Entering your agenda into the teleprompter and auto-scrolling at a set rate can help you pace yourself as you hit each talking point. Conversely, if the meeting is more casual or collaborative, you can set it to manual scrolling so you can adjust on the fly.
The best tip for virtual meetings? Have a teleprompter!
A teleprompter app like VODIUM can be a key piece of making your virtual meetings as effective as possible, helping reduce tangents and keep to specific points. VODIUM allows you to conduct meetings without worrying about forgetting points or droning on for too long. Plus, it works with Zoom and any other video conferencing platform!
Stop by our website and start your free trial today!