With the best VoIP software and its included video conferencing tools, you can run efficient virtual meetings whenever required. To help you get the most out of your time, we’ve put together this list of our top 10 tips for virtual meetings.
1. Use High-Quality Video Conferencing Software
One of the keys to running efficient virtual meetings is using the right software. Although most VoIP and contact center providers offer a decent selection of video calling and conferencing tools, they are far from equal. We’d suggest using a platform that’s known for its video conferencing tools, such as RingCentral or Vonage. RingCentral, for example, includes a vast suite of video conferencing tools with all except its cheapest subscription. Just some of the features you can take advantage of to ensure your meetings run efficiently include:
- In-browser support across mobile and desktop devices
- Support for up to 200 participants
- Screen-sharing and annotation tools
- In-meeting chat so not everyone has to talk
You will also have access to a neat presentation mode, live transcription tools, and virtual backgrounds. RingCentral is a leader in this space, but it’s certainly not the only option on the market.
There are numerous specialized video conferencing tools on the market as well. The most important thing is to ensure you use one that’s reliable and comes with the features you need.
2. Invite the Right Participants
This might seem self-explanatory, but it’s amazing how many people get it wrong. When you’re organizing a virtual meeting, it’s a good idea to sit back and spend a little time thinking about why you’re having it and who needs to be involved.
Note the people who need to be present and have something to contribute, and ensure they receive an invite. If someone doesn’t need to be involved, don’t invite them. Not only will they be wasting time, but they may become frustrated and hesitant to join future meetings.
One way of focusing your invite list is by creating a clear agenda, or at least a list of the things that need to be covered during your meeting. Look through this and identify who needs to be present to deal with each topic.
3. Assign Roles
assigning the appropriate roles. Depending on the size of your team, you may have anywhere from 1-5 or more people with assigned roles. These can include the following:
- A leader who is in charge of running the meeting and ensuring it covers the appropriate topics.
- A reporter to keep track of what happens during the meeting. This role may not be necessary if you have live transcription software or a similar tool enabled.
- A timekeeper, whose responsibility it is to keep the meeting short and succinct. People generally have short attention spans when involved in online meetings, and it’s important to ensure they don’t drag on.
- Tech support, particularly for large teams. It’s often a good idea to assign a member of your IT team to help people get and remain connected.
- A chat moderator to keep an eye on any text chat. This won’t be necessary if you’re not using any text chat tools.
Of course, you can also create your own roles to ensure all participants have a positive experience.
4. Test Your Equipment Ahead of Time
I think we can all agree that there’s nothing worse than turning up to a virtual meeting or presentation and being forced to wait while tech issues are resolved. One great way to ensure this doesn’t happen during your meeting is to test everything before you start.
This includes any tools that you plan to use during your presentation. For example, if you plan to use a screen sharing or presenter tool, we’d suggest asking a colleague to help you test it and ensure it’s working as it should.
5. Implement Clear Communication Rules
Online meetings make it difficult to pick up on visual cues, and it can be hard to know when you can and can’t speak. To ensure your virtual meeting runs smoothly and participants don’t interrupt or speak over each other, we strongly suggest implementing clear communication rules
For example, you might have a policy that everyone has to greet the team when they enter a meeting before muting their microphone. This will reduce background noise and unwanted distractions.
Rules to help meeting attendees speak when they want to are also useful. If you’re using video conferencing with a small number of meeting participants, this is usually quite an easy thing to implement. Some video conferencing platforms come with tools that enable people to “put their hand up” to speak without interrupting the current speaker.
6. Keep Things Concise
One of the most important things to remember when planning virtual meetings is that people don’t have long attention spans. It’s usually a lot harder for people to remain focused when they’re working from home or another location than from the office. Distractions like family members, pets, and even excess noise can significantly reduce attention spans.
The best way to stop people from getting bored and becoming disengaged is to keep your virtual meetings short. This way, everyone will be able to keep track of what’s happening. The content you need to cover will obviously play a part in the length of your meeting, but a good rule is to try to keep it to 15-20 minutes or less.
7. Keep Things Engaging
Let’s face it, no one wants to sit there for half an hour and listen to their employer talk to them. If you take this approach to virtual meetings, you will likely find that people are zoning out and not paying attention to what you’re saying.
To prevent this from happening, ensure you keep things as engaging as possible. Ask questions to bring specific team members into the conversation. Ensure all team members know that they are welcome to (and should) ask their own questions. And if possible, try to include some sort of ice-breaker or other activity to make participants comfortable from the start.
8. Take Advantage of Other Business Productivity Tools
Most virtual meeting platforms offer integrations with various other business productivity and collaboration tools and software. Using these to your best advantage can help you remain productive and ensure you’re getting the most out of your meetings.
Let’s say, for example, that you’ve called a short meeting to discuss a certain aspect of your current project. By integrating other tools, you will be able to access the relevant information and discussion points with just a few clicks. Popular integrations in this sense include cloud storage and collaboration platforms.
9. Be Aware of Time Zones
If you don’t have experience working with remote employees, it’s very easy to forget about different time zones. It’s common for remote teams to have employees on opposite sides of the world, which can make it difficult to organize efficient virtual meetings.
If this is the case for you, we can only stress the importance of communication. Speak with team members and find out when they’re available for a meeting. You might find, for example, that some members prefer working late at night, while others are morning people. This can make it easier to schedule your meetings at a satisfactory time for everyone.
10. Ask for Feedback From Your Team
One of the best ways to keep improving your virtual meetings is to find out what other meeting participants think. At the end of a meeting, you might like to send out some sort of feedback form asking for people’s opinions.
This is particularly useful if you’re new to virtual meetings. Involving employees in the decision-making process like this will also make them feel like part of your team, encouraging a positive workplace. You can further this by providing feedback to your employees and noting positive contributions or other things they bring to meetings.
More and more companies across the world are using virtual meetings to keep in contact with their employees. Remote workforces are becoming increasingly common, and an increasing percentage of employees are working from home.
This comes with communication difficulties, especially if you don’t know how to run an effective meeting. In this article, we’ve covered our top 10 tips for virtual meetings to help you keep things running smoothly.
Start by selecting a reliable, feature-rich meeting platform. Keep meetings short, create clear communication rules, remain engaging, and take advantage of the tools at your disposal. But above all, show your team members that you’re friendly, approachable, and always happy to talk and listen to their thoughts.