Meetings are both an art and science. Remote meetings bring together science and art at a whole new level. It can make meetings frustrating, awkward, inconvenient, or downright infuriating.
Remote meetings can turn into a waste of time, regardless of whether it is due to faulty software, slow Internet connections, or tuned out workers.
There has to be a way to eliminate awkward pauses, over-talking, miscommunications that can occur in remote meetings.
To make this article as specific and relevant as possible, I will be focusing on internal meetings within an organization with a distributed workforce. Businesses and agencies are increasingly allowing for a location-independent workforce.
While remote teams have their obvious benefits, there are also disadvantages. Some of those problems are found in team meetings.
Here are the essentials for a successful remote meeting.
1. Make sure you use the best software.
Remote meetings are only as good as the tools you use.
Good project managers know the importance of high-quality software, regardless of whether they are responsible for project planning or team planning.
Do not skimp when it comes to choosing the best teleconference software.
There are two main approaches to meeting software: 1. phone system, which often include online call-in capabilities and 2. Internet-only interfaces.
GoToMeeting, which relies on telephone systems, is a popular option. You can also call the online portal if you wish.
Google Hangouts is primarily an Internet service. (You can also use a phone.)
Stick to a system that is most comfortable for everyone.
I recommend a system that allows for easy screen sharing and video capabilities.
These are the top systems I have used:
You must realize that no system is perfect. You will have to deal with low quality at one point.
2. Make an agenda and send it to everyone.
A successful remote meeting will be successful if you follow a set agenda.
Agendas are important in real life, but it is more important to follow a clear guide when working in remote environments.
An agenda allows callers to pick up again if call quality is poor or they drop off the call.
3. When speaking, each speaker should identify himself.
It sounds strict and authoritative to have rules for your meeting.
While I understand that, a lack structure could cause the meeting to go off the rails.
This simple rule — identify your self when you begin speaking — can transform a chaotic meeting into a smooth one.
Here’s why. This prefix, “This Is So-and-So” acts as a buffer between telephonic pauses or unknown delays in remote meetings.
Software that displays the speaker’s name on the screen can eliminate the need to introduce the speaker. Self-identification is also unnecessary when video interactions are used. However, without the support technology to identify speakers via video, please have each speaker introduce himself before they speak on their chosen subject.
4. Have a clear leader.
A clear leader is essential for the meeting. Meetings that are democratically organized often lead to chaos and confusion.
The meeting moderator does not have to speak all the time, but she should manage transitions and guide the discussion.
5. Give everyone an opportunity to speak.
There will always be some people who fall into silence, just like in any meeting. You may not be able to tell if they are still present if you don’t use video software.
Your meeting will be more lively, more interactive, and hopefully more productive if you ask everyone to take part in a clear and specific way.
BusinessCollective offers a tactical approach to improving interaction
Encourage discussion among attendees by assigning talking points. Each person should have at least one point of discussion on their agenda.