Many of us are having meetings in our homes through video conferencing software. Remote work is already difficult, with a high risk of interruption and distraction. Remote meetings increase that difficulty level, as so many publicly embarrassing incidents have shown us.
This article will discuss how to have quick, effective meetings as you work from home or work online.
But, before we get started, here are a few ground rules you must follow – even if you don’t believe you will be video conferencing.
Setting up your online meeting
Since the quarantine in March, there have been innumerable news articles published about faux pas performed during meetings. The most minor of which was a CEO who could not figure out how to turn off a funny Zoom filter (she was a potato for that meeting). However, I am sure you’ve heard of many other, less heartwarming and hilarious examples of decorum issues during meetings.
So, here are some essential tips you need to follow.
1. Wear business-appropriate attire.
Even if the call is not over video conference, wearing business-appropriate clothing will help you feel more professional. And, if you believe you are not video conferencing when you are, there will be nothing objectionable about your outfit.
2. Prepare in the same way you would for an in-person meeting.
Remove any food from the premises, go to the bathroom beforehand, give your hair a quick brush, read your notes from the last meeting, and generally prepare for the discussion just as you would have pre-March 2020.
3. Create a distraction-free space.
This is likely the most challenging action to do. Home is full of distraction, from children trying to navigate distance learning to a partner trying to perform their work duties.
While a distraction-free space can mean different things to different people, here are a few ideas for setting up a distraction-free meeting:
- Notify everyone living in your home of the meeting time. This can be done with a whiteboard outside your office space, phone notifications, or some other method.
- Shut the door – and make sure to open it again after the meeting if necessary. Make sure a closed door has significance.
- Remove any distractions before the meeting. Ask your partner to meet in another room, take the dog for its regularly scheduled walk BEFORE your meeting, and set up a schedule that allows for this meeting time to be as distraction-free as possible.
- Make your preparations 10-15 minutes beforehand. Read through your notes, brew your coffee, check-in on the kids, and generally give yourself the time you need to create a distraction-free space.
- Coordinate your meeting times so they do not coincide with other tasks. There are many tasks around the house to which remote workers must attend. It’s important to recognize this and block out time so that you are not double booked. For example, with many parents working from home, double-booking a meeting with your child’s break time in between classes can spell disaster. Block out that time in your schedule and set up meetings for the time blocks when your child will be in school.
As process and procedure experts, we recommend that you set up a procedure for scheduling and preparing for your remote meetings. Creating focussed spaces and times for your meetings can only help improve every meeting’s quality and efficiency.
How to have an effective remote meeting
Now that you have your basic foundation for a meeting established above, it is important to understand how you can run an effective remote meeting. Here is a quick “how to.”
Set up a meeting procedure that works for you
Just as we recommended above that you create a business procedure for scheduling and preparing for your meetings, we also believe that creating a step-by-step procedure for your meetings going forward will create consistency and efficacy as you continue to work remotely.
Make sure everyone understands the technology on which the meeting is run
You may have been using Google Meet for months, but your client could have been using Zoom. Before assuming everyone is using the same technology, ask what they have been using, what they are comfortable with, and use that tech. Once you have established this, make sure you understand how to operate the technology – don’t just assume you’ll pick it up as the meeting progresses. Test it out well before your meeting and look for any little bugs that don’t make sense for you. And, try not to turn yourself into a potato while doing this exploration.
Schedule the meeting at the best time for you and your team
Many of us tweak our schedules to fit with the needs of our team or our customers. While this is completely appropriate, it’s also vital that you consider what meeting time will work best for you. If that meeting is going to happen during another distracting activity in your home, ensure that either the activity is sorted out beforehand – or reschedule the meeting to a more suitable time.
Set the expectations for the meeting
Every meeting must have a time limit and a goal to be effective. A check-in meeting can be short and high-level, while a meeting defining business procedures may be longer and more in-depth.
Before the meeting begins, ensure that you have a goal and budget an appropriate amount of time for the meeting. If you aren’t running the meeting, you can still set a personal goal to help you stick to your agenda and actually accomplish something with this meeting.
If you can’t decide on the goal for the meeting – don’t have it. Purposeless, time-consuming meetings are the reason meetings, in general, get a bad reputation.
Schedule meeting preparation time
We touched on this above when it comes to creating an effective meeting space, but it’s also important to prepare for your meeting. Schedule some time to review notes and decide how you will best guide the meeting to accomplish your goal.
Keep casual conversation outside of meetings
Create other channels for employees to have casual conversations and check-ins so that your meeting stays on track. Many companies have virtual “water coolers” on Slack or Google Chat. Others set up Zoom “coffee breaks” for employees that want to reconnect “face-to-face” with their coworkers. These chats are important for informal collaboration and connection, but they should remain outside of a formal meeting.
Assign someone as meeting moderator
If your meetings often get out of hand and don’t accomplish much, consider assigning a moderator to keep you on-task and move the agenda forward. Or, think about how work does get completed in your company. It may be that a meeting is wholly unnecessary and coordination through a messaging platform may be more effective.
Do a quick review at the end of the meeting
At the end of the meeting, quickly review whether or not the goal of the meeting was accomplished. If not, end the meeting, send out the notes, and ask your team how you can better accomplish this goal. Just because the meeting is over does not mean that you do not need to achieve your objective. Collaborate with your team to find a better way to do this.
Your company must achieve your targets for this final quarter. Effective meetings are a great way to get everyone on the same page as you reach for these goals. Ineffective meetings are a great way to waste time and cut into everyone’s workday. Make your meetings effective with the above “how-to.”
If you are ready to increase your business efficiency, it’s time to talk to the process experts. Contact Business Success Consulting Group for your free initial consultation.