In the world we live in right now, virtual meetings with internal teams, clients, and prospects are now the norm and the only option for many of us. Some of us are welcoming the change and loving the fact that we don’t need to drive to a coffee shop 30 minutes away. Others are struggling with not being able to speak face to face and read body language in their meetings.
No matter how you feel about remote meetings, they are unavoidable and critical in the professional world at the moment.
We have decided to put together a comprehensive list of tips that you can use no matter who you are in a meeting with to help ensure that you have successful virtual meetings.
1. Lights, Camera, Action!
The first thing you will want to do is enter meetings with the camera on. If you are in a meeting with internal employees, encourage them to turn on their cameras, also. Having the camera on not only ensures that people are paying attention but it also makes communication easier. Even though it is tougher to read body language, you can still see facial expressions on screen.
When it comes to current client or sales calls, you should obviously let them decide if they want their camera on. Whether theirs is on or off doesn’t matter. You should have yours on.
While we are on the subject of the camera let’s talk about lighting. Make sure people can see you on the call. Some of us are working in dens or offices with limited natural light but you can always move a few lamps around or take your calls in another room to ensure that people can see you.
2. The Rule of Mute
If you are in a meeting with more than three or four people, background noise can cause a loss of focus – which is not what you want when running an effective meeting. How do you solve this issue? State at the beginning of the meeting that those who aren’t speaking need to mute their microphones to reduce background distractions and noise.
No one wants to hear sirens or a dog incessantly barking during a strategy meeting.
3. Create a Meeting Agenda
It is always a good idea to have an agenda before heading into any meeting but it is especially critical for virtual meetings. Why? Things are slightly more casual in video conferences and things can get off topic quickly.
If you are the organizer of the meeting, send out an agenda with the meeting invite – you will thank yourself later!
4. Send a Post-Meeting Email with Notes and Action Items
In a virtual meeting, you really can’t be sure who is taking notes and who isn’t and you don’t want anything to fall through the cracks. Send a follow-up email after the meeting to outline what was discussed and action items that you and others in the meeting agreed on.
5. Send Meeting Reminders
For whatever reason, virtual meetings are easier to forget than physical meetings. It probably has to do with the fact that you can’t really skip a face-to-face meeting because everyone attending is in your office or in a conference room somewhere.
If you have a big internal meeting scheduled that isn’t recurring, send a reminder to the attendees a few hours before the meeting starts and remind them to bring any deliverables to the meeting.
6. Send Something Special Post-Meeting
It can be hard to leave a lasting impression on potential clients that you would normally meet with in-person while on video. You want to leave them with something that makes you stand out from the competition. We suggest sending them a small gift or “swag bag” post-meeting with branded items such as coffee mugs, hand sanitizer, pens, and notepads.
Sites like this one allow you to easily add your logo, tagline, company name, and more on tons of different items. Extra points if you write a personalized message on a notepad and throw in a gift card for their next lunch!
You can also send employees something special after a successful project is finished. Order them lunch through delivery apps and sending virtual gift cards are fantastic ways to show them that you appreciate their effort.
Recommended Read: Individual Incentive Ideas for Remote Employees
7. Have Everyone Log Into the Meeting a Few Minutes Early
This helps to ensure that the meeting starts on time. With virtual meetings, we occasionally run into technological issues like the sound on our microphones not working, not being able to see all participants, etc. and this allows a little extra time to make sure everyone is on and ready to go when the meeting is supposed to begin.
This also allows for a few minutes of chatting. Your employees haven’t seen each other for over a month or so and this gives them a little bit of time to catch up with one another.
8. Record the Meeting
We don’t suggest recording meetings with potential clients but you can record internal meetings and trainings. It is hard to stay focused and alert during an in-person meeting that lasts over an hour and becomes even harder in a virtual environment.
Record your meeting and then send it in your post-meeting email. With a recording, your employees can go back and review the information that may have been missed in their notes on their own time. Recordings can also be shared with team members who may have missed the meeting.
9. Relax a Little
The interesting that we have noticed with virtual meetings is that things seem a bit more laid back. Some people are loving this while others are missing a more formal in-person setup. Take this as an opportunity to loosen up a little and show employees and clients a side of you that they don’t normally see.
Don’t come off as unprofessional but if the conversation gets a bit off track, that is okay. People really miss interacting with one another and these meetings are sometimes the only chance some get to talk to another person. If you have a particularly chatty team, add an extra 15 minutes to the meeting and let them chat after it is over.
10. Don’t Hop In and Out of the Call
This doesn’t happen too often but with larger groups, a lot of people will hop in and out of the call. For things like webinars with 20+ people, this is fine, but for team or group meetings it can be distracting.
During long meetings, things will come up. Kids will fall off of their bikes outside, you may have to go to the bathroom, or grab a charger but unless it is pressing, try to stay in the call with your face visible. Hopping out of the call once over the course of an hour and a half is fine but 3-4 times makes it seem like you are disengaged.
You should encourage your employees to do the same. If there is a particularly long meeting scheduled where a lot of material is going to be covered, tell them to come prepared with water, coffee, a notebook, pen, phones if needed, etc.
11. Do Virtual Team Building Activities
If you were doing team-building exercises before the stay at home orders, now is not the time to stop. Virtual team building looks a little different than in-person but can still be fun and effective. You can host happy hours where everyone plays two truths and a lie, play trivia together over lunch, or play charades.
You can also host learning lunches where one person presents information about a project they are working on or a part of their job that others may not know much about. Before their presentation, have them share a few things about themselves that the others may not have known for extra team-building juice!
12. Have Giveaways
We have yet to meet a person that doesn’t love a good giveaway. If you are hosting company-wide meetings, trainings, or putting on webinars for your clients, throw in a giveaway. You can make the prize as large or as small as you would like from goodie bags and coffee shop giftcards to trips and spa days once everything opens back up, people will be excited to compete for the prize.
You can keep everyone engaged in the meeting by telling them at the beginning that you will be sending out three questions and whoever answers them correctly will win the prize!
Recommended Read: Make Your Next Corporate Meeting a Blast and Inspire Employees
13. Be Patient
Even though we have been doing virtual meetings for a few weeks now, some people are still having trouble figuring out the technology. So, when someone is having trouble with screen sharing or muting themselves, give them a little time and don’t rush them. Try to help guide them through figuring out the issue and possibly schedule an individual training session so they can learn how to use the software.
Going virtual is an adjustment. It is an adjustment for sales teams, creative production teams, management, and everyone in between and comes with its own set of challenges. With that being said, you can definitely still have productive meetings with employees and clients. We hope this list of tips for having effective virtual meetings will help make the adjustment that much easier.
At MTI Events, we specialize in incentive travel, corporate event planning, and coordinating awesome team-building experiences for companies like yours. Right now you can’t all be together but when your team can get back in the office, we will be here to help you put together awesome experiences for them!
In the meantime, feel free to visit our promotional products store where you can customize tons of cool items to fit your brand. Click below to continue!