Remember when we used to hold meetings in person with live humans in the same room? No? Neither do I. But I do remember the satisfaction of having successfully run a meeting with an outlined agenda, participant engagement and solidified action steps. Just because a meeting is virtual doesn’t mean it should be less formal.
Following are some best practices and tips for both leaders and attendees to keep top of mind.
- Leader Preparation: If you’re hosting and leading the virtual meeting, make sure you follow the same best practices you would if it were live.
- Create an agenda and distribute it to attendees in advance along with a note about the purpose and intended outcome of the meeting. Make sure you provide attendees time to prep on their end if there’s pre-work required.
- Have all of your meeting materials open and readily available. Know where they are or label them in numerical order so you can easily locate the documents you need. You lose your attendees’ attention the minute you start searching for files.
- Acknowledge the full list of participants once everyone has joined. If you’re meeting with clients or outside partners, make sure introductions are made if needed. If multiple participants are speaking and video cameras are not being used, ask for individuals to identify who’s speaking. Not everyone excels at voice recognition.
- Before you exit, make sure you’ve summarized the main points and clearly outlined action steps and owners.
- Attendee Preparation: Just because you’re not leading, doesn’t mean there aren’t action steps you can take to make sure it’s time well spent.
- There are 8 zillion (and counting) virtual meeting tools. And every client and partner uses something different. If this is a tool you haven’t encountered, make sure you log in early. Chances are you’ll have to download software or it will take time to connect your audio. First impressions are lasting – make sure yours is a positive one by being on time.
- Read through the agenda and the meeting invite notes and come with ideas or questions. Unless it’s a brainstorming or overview meeting, the actual meeting is not the time to get up to speed. Prep in advance and you’ll look like a rock star.
- Meeting Etiquette: Remote meetings can quickly become laxadaisical if leaders and participants alike don’t adhere to a few key virtual meeting basics.
- Dress the part (or at least get dressed). If you’re using video, make sure you dress appropriately. You may think you’ll only be seen from the neck up, but there are a million reasons why you may need to move around. Expect the unexpected and dress accordingly.
- Use the functionality. The buttons are there for a reason. If you’re not actively participating, put yourself on mute to avoid disruption. If you don’t need to be on camera, shut it off. If you need to share your screen, make sure you’ve cleaned up your laptop and are only showing what you want to be shared. When you’re done with your part of the presentation – turn the screenshare back over to the leader or shut if off. It’s easy to forget you’re still temporarily hosting.
- Pay attention. You were invited for a reason. Avoid distractions and participate as able. Virtual meeting fatigue is real – but you can add more value if you’re alert, energized and actively engaged. Do some jumping jacks or down a cup of coffee before the meeting to get your energy levels up.
With virtual meetings becoming so commonplace, we can all use reminders on etiquette. Check out this article for more best practices and tips to avoid Zoom fatigue.