Five Tips to run Successful Virtual Meetings

World leaders across the globe have recently chaired their first ever digital government meetings. Many Managers and employees are also leading and taking part in virtual meetings via apps such as Zoom, Teams, Skype or GoToMeeting. A number of staff might be doing this for the first time or the first time in a long while.

What can you do to ensure that your next virtual meeting runs smoothly?

This article will explore 5 tips to give you more confidence to lead productive and successful virtual meetings during the new normal: 

  1. Get everyone involved

Rather like in face-to-face meetings it’s critical that people taking part in the virtual meeting should be active participants. If not, there is no reason for them to attend.

An effective way to start your virtual meetings is using a short ice-breaker activity, such as asking everyone to share something positive that happened to them in the last week.

You should also use participants names as much as possible at the start of the meeting to engage their attention. As American self-development guru Dale Carnegie once said;

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” 

  1. Check the tech works

Some of your team will have more experience than others with virtual meetings and different levels of comfort with the technology. Be sure to provide clear instructions about how to join the meeting and think of common challenges people might face so you can predict problems before they happen.

Ideally you should ask participants to test their microphone and camera in advance of the meeting to reduce the chance of wasting valuable time with technical issues when the meeting starts. 

Person In Front Of Laptop On Brown Wooden Table
Issue-free tech = issue-free virtual meeting!
  1. Have a Plan B

Technical issues are unavoidable at times, so be sure to have a back-up plan in case there are too many problems with the platform you are using to conduct your meeting. This might mean having your colleague in IT or someone technically competent on stand-by to problem-solve any technical difficulties or to switch to another communication tool if your Plan A is not working. 

  1. Keep them brief

Similar to a daily scrum in Agile working methodology, a 10-minute daily virtual huddle can sometimes be long enough for team members to understand the plan of attack for the day. If necessary, you could have one slightly longer meeting each week. Overall, it’s best to keep virtual meetings as short as possible.

  1. Use video

Always ask all participants to turn on their video during virtual meetings. While you can’t meet face-to-face for the moment, seeing a video of the people you are communicating with is the next best option. Using video also has the added bonus of making sure that everyone is paying attention as you can see their body language and facial expressions!

Photo of a Surprised Woman
Seeing body language and expressions via video is important!

Conclusion

The ability to lead both face-to-face and virtual meetings is an important soft skill in a successful Manager’s toolkit.

During your next virtual meeting on Zoom, Skype or Teams try to use these five different strategies to increase your teams’ productivity. As a result, you might also find that motivation and engagement improves!

Also consider sending your staff on a virtual training course to help them brush up their skills and improve the way they run virtual meetings.

3 Key Techniques for Managing a New Remote Team

With many of us suddenly being asked to work from home as the world tries to tackle the spread of Coronavirus, you may find yourself unexpectedly launched into managing a new remote team.

Do you want to support your team, maintain productivity and drive business performance during this challenging time? Well read on, because we’ve outlined three key techniques below for getting the most from your team as they work from home.

1)   Engage with your remote team regularly

Even before social distancing and self-isolation restrictions were put in place, Buffer’s State of Remote Work report in 2019 identified loneliness as a major challenge for remote workers. In fact, prolonged isolation can – in extreme cases – result in problems like anxiety and depression. This can have a huge impact on an employee’s engagement and productivity, not to mention their overall well-being.

Frequent communication is an important tool for tackling this problem. Try to encourage your team to use multiple channels to communicate – and do it on a daily basis. Ensure you arrange the appropriate number of weekly formal “report-ins”, but remember to make time for small talk and quality 1-1s too.

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Try to use gifs to convey emotion – congrats!

Ideally, you want to create an atmosphere of engagement and genuine connection. Try to use video conferencing instead of pure audio calls where possible to enhance this. If using a chat feature, use animated gifs and emojis to convey emotion. These forms of communication may be out of your normal comfort zone, but given that so much of communication is non-verbal, using these methods can significantly reduce the risk of hurt feelings.

2)   Make the most of the tools available

If you’ve been thrown in the deep end with remote working, you and your team may not have that perfect home office you always dreamed of. In fact, many of your team members right this moment might be squashed in a spare room, stuck on their sofa, or worst-case scenario working from a laptop on their bed! Encourage your team to experiment with their workspace, making the best of the space they have and ensuring they can work comfortably for several hours at a time.

The same rule goes for online tools. Maximise your team’s performance by using some of the amazing collaboration tools now available. Common choices include Office 365/Teams, Zoom and Slack. Use video calls to discuss ideas and provide updates with small or large groups. Share your screen to demonstrate a point or explain a workflow. You can even allow others to take control of your screen for true collaborative working. Online whiteboards are the perfect tool for ideation and brainstorming, so there’s no need to stop the flow of creativity during this time. And lastly remember to create areas dedicated for celebrating milestones and recognising both team and individual successes.

Teams screen share
Share screens to collaborate in a video call

 

3)   Show trust by focusing on outcomes, not activity

Nobody likes to have their manager breathing down their neck. This is true no matter the work arrangement, but especially important when you can’t see the reaction of the other person.

To get the most from your team, don’t worry as much about what is being done. Instead, concentrate on what is being achieved. Help your team understand exactly how you will measure success by clearly defining the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project. Set expectations about what doing something “quickly” or “well” means, and provide clarity by showing examples, creating project flows and communicating regularly.

You Got This Lighted Signage
Remember to support and trust your remote team

DO NOT track their activity and log on times or get frustrated if they don’t respond to a message straight away. When your team to manages their own time, it allows them to maximise their personal energy levels and productivity, leading to both higher output and motivation. This takes a large amount of trust in your team, so remember a good remote manager gives their trust freely and acts as a role model for the rest of the team – if you don’t trust your team, you have to ask why you hired them in the first place.

 

How do I develop my skills as a remote manager?

You are not alone. Many managers are looking to develop their skills so they can adapt to the current challenging circumstances.

To learn more and improve your approach, take a look at our Managing Teams Remotely virtual classroom training.

An investment in your skillset as a remote manager now could be the difference between success and failure as a remote team in the coming months.