Face-to-face meetings are becoming increasingly phased out, especially with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses struggle to implement social distancing protocols across the workplace while organising remote work arrangements, executives are turning towards video conferencing meetings instead. This includes apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, MS Teams, Skype and Slack.
However, there are many things that could go wrong during a typical video conferencing meeting. For instance, poor internet connectivity is one of the biggest hassles that many employees face. Additionally, with the greater number of participants dialing in, video quality and productivity begins to decline. Poor presentation can also mean that attendees begin to lose focus and multi-task, or some participants begin to dominate the conversation while others are left out entirely.
With all the numerous challenges that come with running virtual meetings, it’s important to start by implementing powerful strategies to improve your organisation’s strategic direction, planning and goal-setting, teamwork and cohesion. In saying this, here’s 4 simple ways you can run better video conferencing meetings!
- Establish Ground Rules & Meeting Agenda
When it comes to video conferencing meetings, it’s crucial that you send a meeting agenda along with an invitation to the participants. Through this, guests can understand the reason why they have been invited and it will allow them to prepare adequately beforehand. It’s also highly recommended that you distribute this meeting agenda material via email, or in-person within the office (if applicable).
When holding the video conferencing meeting, it’s also incredibly important that you set ground rules, clear expectations and firm objectives prior to the conversation. During this virtual meeting session, you should refer to the meeting agenda consistently to establish a clear structure that your guests can easily follow throughout. If the meeting is long make sure to take breaks and clarify the next steps after each section (such as timing, delegated roles and accountabilities), and towards the end.
Other key preparations to conclude in your meeting agenda could be reminders for your guests to hold practice runs – this means testing their own personal technology beforehand, ensuring that their audio speakers and webcam work properly. A video conferencing meeting can be easily delayed if certain participants haven’t even downloaded the relevant software or properly familiarised themselves with the different features on the virtual meeting app.
- Minimise presentation length & Engage Participants
One of the most dreadful aspects of many meetings, including video conferencing ones, are excruciatingly long presentations. Firstly, very long presentations can be easily shortened by using a structured meeting agenda (as outlined above), which gives your attendees the relevant background information prior to the meeting – this can save you enormous amounts of time, while actually facilitating a more concise and engaging conversation with your participants. It also allows for you to hold a Q&A or feedback session at the end of the meeting.
For video conferencing presentations, you can use screen-sharing to further guide the conversation and add any extra information for your attendees to jot down and easily follow your points. While some people might be a little reluctant at first, ensuring that everyone turns on their webcams is another important step to enhance engagement – when everyone sees each other’s facial expressions and body language, it recreates an in-person meeting by making the discussion much more intimate and dynamic. Using ice-breakers can be another way to reinforce camaraderie within your team.
- Promote Open & Inclusive Discussions
Compared to in-person meetings, one of the biggest disadvantages of video conferencing meetings is that it can be harder to promote broader discussions where everyone can contribute equally. That’s why you can assign an ‘administrator’ to guide the conversation and encourage participation from every attendee. Not only will you improve the participant’s focus on the content and meeting agenda, you can ensure all voices are heard.
The administrator can use a polling system when proposing a certain question – this ensures a majority vote in the decision-making process, along with agreement on particular issues. Based on the video conferencing app being used, the admin can also resolve any enquiries in the chat function, or calling for participants to ‘Raise Their Hand’ or click on the ‘Thumbs Up’ feature. These software features are a great way to ensure contribution, especially from more introverted participants.
To promote open and inclusive discussion, you should periodically call on different people to turn on their audio and speak. There’s nothing worse than having multiple people talking over each other in a virtual meeting, and having your ears be horribly deafened by the sudden spike in audio. Another strategy to streamline your video conferencing procedure is to ‘go around the table’ before a decision is finalised, ensuring that everyone can voice their opinions.
- Capture Real-time Feedback.
Collecting feedback during a video conferencing meeting can be quite difficult, especially since visual cues are harder to interpret. To get around this, you can use different features of your software packages to capture real-time feedback quickly and efficiently. For example, you can use an open phone-based survey tool to collect on-demand feedback from attendees on specific topics in real time. You should ideally keep the polling separate from the videoconference to avoid disrupting the conversation.
Another way to gather more detailed feedback systematically is to arrange various one-on-one virtual meetings with your employees or participants. Not only does this foster more open and honest communication compared to group meetings, it allows you to build deeper relationships with your colleagues and receive more personalised feedback. Another way to gain this feedback quickly, especially from introverted employees or attendees, is to ask for feedback in the chat function of the software.
Improve Your Business Efficiency With Better Online Tools
With the chaotic effects of COVID-19, many businesses have been forced to move online. While using video conferencing software is one of the most well-known changes to our modern work culture, many organisations are also turning to more efficient online tools to leverage their digital presence and attract more valuable prospects.
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