The transition from traditional, face-to-face interactions to virtual and hybrid meetings may have been hard for some to adapt to, but it’s now a staple in every organization.
Despite the shift in employee culture, online meetings have proven to be as productive as face-to-face interactions, thanks to a number of tools available. However, there still are some challenges to overcome. For instance, the main problem with online meetings is that they can run amok if not conducted well.
So, how do you ensure all participants remain engaged and get a chance to contribute? The answer lies in better preparation and investing in the right tools. Let’s look at five ways you can overcome some of the unique challenges that come with virtual meetings.
1. DISTRIBUTE THE MEETING AGENDA BEFOREHAND
A virtual meeting has less room for errors because at least some attendees are remote. Any technological glitch or diversion from the topic can lead to confusion and disorient the meeting. So, setting, sharing, and sticking to an agenda is essential.
According to a recent report, 67% of professionals said setting an agenda indicates a good meeting. It guides the meeting in the right direction by helping attendees stay on track. What’s more, if meeting attendees see there’s much to cover in a limited amount of time, they’ll be less likely to engage in chatter or drive things off-topic.
The agenda also gives your team time to prepare notes or questions. And because everyone will know what to expect, they’ll feel more comfortable and included. Email the meeting agenda beforehand to enhance productivity.
2. ASSIGN ROLES PRIOR TO THE MEETING
The environment of online meetings is different from in-person meetings. For one thing, the impromptu sessions you can have face-to-face don’t come as easily virtually. Plus, there are too many distractions online—multitasking during the meeting is too tempting, which can breed confusion.
So, set roles for everyone before the meeting. This will make participants more attentive and accountable. Almost all virtual meeting platforms provide options to dedicate roles to the attendees. The meeting will run smoother, and you’ll have an easier time keeping attendees engaged. Common roles include:
- Facilitator: This person keeps the meeting on track.
- Organizer: The organizer will lead the meeting, assign roles, set schedules, and share the agenda.
- Notetaker: Notetakers are tasked with taking notes and creating both brief and detailed reports of the meetings.
- Timekeeper: The timekeepers and facilitators work together to ensure no part of the meeting lasts too long.
- Attendees: Those without a designated role are attendees and can contribute where needed.
This approach ensures everyone comes to the meeting prepared. In addition, when everyone has an assigned role, they’ll be more actively involved.
3. SET REMINDERS
Setting reminders has become part of our daily lives. People have reminders for taking medicine, grocery shopping, and even drinking water. So, why not use this tactic to improve your virtual meeting?
Reminders bring higher attendance as everyone gets a notification 15 to 30 minutes beforehand. As a result, you’ll have fewer late arrivals and no-shows and more productive meetings. Those who can’t attend the meeting due to last-minute conflicts will be reminded to contact the facilitator before the meeting starts, so they have enough time to plan a replacement or fill the void.
Choose virtual meeting platforms that include in-app features to customize reminder settings and send meeting invitations.
4. TEST YOUR TECHNOLOGY IN ADVANCE
Microphone or camera problems, network issues—we’ve all been there. It’s frustrating when online meetings get interrupted. And while technical glitches can usually be corrected with a few clicks or by changing some settings, they waste everyone’s time.
So, have all meeting attendees—regardless of their roles—test their technology before the meeting begins. Conduct a quick test of the webcam, internet connection, audio, microphone, and video quality. The virtual meeting platforms you use have pre-built options to help you check these aspects. Run a mic and speaker test. Check the webcam for the highest video quality.
To ensure a seamless meeting, you must also choose the best hardware and firmware. In addition, check to ensure your presentation or screen-sharing abilities work correctly.
5. INVEST IN PROPER TOOLS
Every device we use today comes with all the hardware you need to attend a virtual meeting. Laptops and phones have cameras, microphones, and speakers, but these tools may not be your best option. Instead, invest in an external microphone that delivers the highest quality of audio to the listeners.
Choose a mic that reduces the background noise, which is a big cause of frustration for everyone hearing your voice. Along with this, you can invest in a good webcam, noise-canceling headphones, and an external speaker—among other tools—for a better virtual meeting experience.
In addition to choosing the right tools, you should also invest in the right software. Your virtual meeting platforms should make it easier to attend, facilitate, and manage a meeting—not harder.
ENJOY SMOOTHER VIRTUAL MEETINGS
With modern technology and the popularity of hybrid work, virtual meetings are an easy way to get your team together. You just need to sync up your calendars and send an invite. However, getting participants to focus is the main challenge. The many online distractions coupled with inferior technology can quickly derail your meetings.
The solution: selecting the right UCaaS applications, pairing it with the right hardware, and implementing the best practices to make online meetings more efficient and collaborative.
At Vivo Technologies, we help businesses collaborate better, equipping our clients with the best-in-class tools and software. Our unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions are tailored to your needs.
It’s time to leave the frustration of grainy videos and muffled sounds behind. Let us help you conduct better virtual meetings. Contact our virtual meeting platforms experts to learn more.