More employees are working from home, more meetings are conducted online, and more candidates are interviewing via webcam. When you’re in a virtual meeting with a colleague, hiring manager, or client through a conferencing platform like Skype, Zoom, Teams, or Slack, that virtual environment becomes part of your personal brand.
If the virtual meetings you host are plagued by technical issues, unprofessional audio, and distractions, your personal brand will feel rough and chaotic. On the other hand, if you run virtual meetings without any hiccups, your personal brand will feel polished and professional.
In this post, we’ll look at what you can do to prepare for and run an effective and productive virtual meeting.
If your room is empty and uncarpeted, it can result in hollow, echoed audio distracting to others. Carpeted rooms with soft furnishings tend to create the best audio during web conferences. If the room you’re calling from doesn’t have carpet, even putting a rug on the floor and some floor pillows in the room can reduce reverberation and create a warmer sound.
Prevent distracting pop-ups either by shutting down extraneous applications or turning on “Do Not Disturb” if you’re running MacOS. While you may think you’re able to just ignore them, notifications are specifically designed to disrupt your attention. Worse, if you’re screen sharing, you probably don’t want everyone to see that your partner is on their way to the grocery store when your presenting quarterly sales figures.
As people join the call, ask them to complete a quick task, like adding any updates to a shared agenda document, typing their name and a brief bio in the chat window, or preparing a response to a focus question, like “What is one thing you hope to get out of this session?”
Establishing rules is especially important online because we cannot read each other’s body language or pick up on the fidgeting that might otherwise indicate something is going off the rails. Decide what your speaking order will be and stick to it. It’s very easy to start talking over each other online, so you might want to designate a word, like “over,” that people can say when they have finished their thought. You should also set a hard timeline for each agenda item and decide what critical decisions or goals need to be made.
It’s way too easy to check out when you’re sitting in front of a screen. Try to include everyone by assigning different jobs: a notetaker (especially if you are working off of a shared document or screen), a timekeeper, a facilitator (to call on people based on assigned speaking order), and other tasks that need handling. If you are planning to have a lot of meetings or classes online, switch roles around so everyone has a chance to do each job.
Virtual meetings are a fundamental way of getting things done for many project managers today. Many virtual meetings are frustrating and ineffective. With a little thought and preparation, they can be made both effective and efficient.