Remote meetings have become a necessary part of every business out there, and it has even become the only form of communication for remote working teams across the world. However, running an effective remote meeting can be somewhat challenging, but it is one of the most crucial skills you will need to develop to run a smooth operation.
It doesn’t help that meetings tend to have a negative rap. Sometimes they never start on time, or the discussion starts to fall off track. If the information wasn’t too vital, it could have easily been emailed to everyone instead.
Remote work requires you to maintain a structure that ensures everything goes smoothly. If you can successfully have your remote meetings start and end efficiently, you will free up enough time and make everyone less annoyed. To help you with the process of running a team meeting with your remote workers, we are going to go over some of the best practices in this post.
Do you need a meeting?
As a remote worker, it can be easy to become complacent and hold unnecessary video meetings to make up for the lack of face time. Everyone craves some form of social interaction, so it makes sense why you would want to see another person's face when you spend most of your time staring at your screen and talking loudly into the void. However, starting up a meeting for that need of social interaction is now the correct answer.
If a meeting is something you require, it all comes down to the context behind it. For instance, wishing people happy birthdays does require a meeting to be scheduled, but brainstorming sessions could be ideal for this situation. You will need to use your best judgment, but try to ensure you have only a few meetings each month. You can always set one up at a later date if it's necessary, but you can not undo a useless gathering.
However, if you really want some facetime with your remote team, there are ways to do so without calling for meetings. You can develop some social time with your remote team without needing to schedule meetings. Allow for some time where you can have started some team-building activities. That will allow for both socialization and team bonding to occur.
Find the best time for meetings.
It can be a real hassle trying to find the best time that works for everyone on your remote team, especially when everyone is living in varying time zones. However, you need to decide on the best time and day for your team meetings. It is one of the first steps you need to take if you want to ensure your remote team is efficient and productive.
Consider choosing a single day each week and sticking to it. For instance, you could decide on recurring team meetings every Monday. Doing so should prevent any future scheduling issues from occurring and provide a channel for seamless communication.
You should also look for a time frame that works for everyone’s time zone. For example, if your remote team members live in New York, San Francisco, and London, an ideal team meeting could be around 9 AM PST. That offers a decent time where everyone is awake during a daytime hour, and they will not need to sacrifice sleep to stay up late.
Furthermore, use some tools to gain an overview of your teammate's timezone and schedules.
Begin and end on time
When a meeting is soon to start, you can physically collect a lagging colleague in an office. Although for remote meetings, messages could go ignored if someone is focused. There is no way for you to physically cue them of a meeting ending, like another person entering the conference room to use it or even looking around to see if anyone else has anything to add.
Here are some ideas to make sure your remote meetings begin and end on time.
If there is a chance of you being late to the meeting because of prior obligations, send a message to someone on the team who will be there to inform everyone else. It is far more awkward to walk into a remote meeting late without sending a prior notice, especially since video conferencing solutions tend to play a sound when you enter the room, announcing your late arrival.
If you are the one in charge of setting the meeting and you know you are going to be late, ask the responsibility onto another trusted colleague or inform your team early on that the meeting time will be much later. Depending on the video conferencing software you use, someone on the team may need to create the room for everyone to call in.
Have an automotive meeting reminder besides the calendar invite. For instance, you could set up a notification in your Slack Or other chat programs about upcoming meetings.
Lay down the rules
Once the day and time of your meetings have been agreed upon, you need to commit to a set of remote meeting rules that should help the team make the most of your meetings. These rules can be sent out through emails or added as a talking point during your team meeting agenda.
Here are some remote meeting rules you can set in place for your team:
- Find a spot with either limited or no background noise.
- Mute the mic if someone else is speaking
- Turn on your camera so everyone can see you
- Respect everyone's time
- Add your talking points to the agenda before the start of the meeting
- Read the agenda before the meeting starts
- Do not interrupt others when they are speaking
These are just some ideas you can use when setting up your rules.
Be deliberate with your communication.
It is easier to manage a talking audience during an in-person meeting because everyone is inside the same room. However, virtual meetings require more thoughtful communication to ensure everyone remains on task.
Make sure to leave some space for silence. Most video conferencing solutions had a minor delay and connectivity issue to them. So it can be easy to accidentally talk over each other during a remote meeting. This issue can make it difficult for everyone to hear. For example, let's say you are asking your team a question. During that time, leave a few seconds of silence to give people time to answer before moving on.
You should also keep a close eye on nonverbal responses. You could get some head nodes, confused looks, or other facial expressions during the meeting. Narrate what you are viewing to help you and others read the mood. However, try not to over-rely on nonverbal cues, ask for feedback in chat as well.
Furthermore, make sure to call people out by their names. While making eye contact with someone could prompt them to speak in person, address them by name in a video call.
Lastly, come up with an exit phrase for your video calls. There will be times when some people will not agree to the meeting. Instead of letting them waste everyone's time, use an exit phrase such as “let’s continue this discussion another time.” It offers the rest of your remote team the chance to move on. You can take these issues with your colleagues into a private video call afterward.
Leave time for team bonding.
Taking the time to get to know your remote team on a personal level can help make everyone feel engaged at work. Furthermore, it can have an impact on your team's creativity and problem-solving skills. Remote workers do not have the same opportunities to have informal conversations as people who work in an office setting. That means you need to get proactive with bringing those chances into your remote team meetings.
In this case, you should start your team meetings with a short team-building exercise or icebreaker that helps the team get to know each other. Planning these activities is an excellent way to improve your remote team's trust, cause better brainstorming, and develop an atmosphere of inclusivity during your remote team meetings.
Record your meetings
Unfortunately, there are times when someone has to miss a meeting. However, an excellent thing about remote meetings is that you can record them. If someone is also taking notes throughout the gathering, ask them to also note down the time every so often. That gives your employee the option to fast forward the recorded meeting to the places that have relevant information. That way, they won't need to sit through the entire video.
Assign roles to your team members
If you want to keep your remote team engaged during a meeting, consider assigning various roles. The roles can be notetaker, facilitator, and timekeeper. You should rotate these roles between all the attendees. That should offer you the chance to get everyone involved and invested in the success of these meetings. Lastly, to keep your employees further engaged during these meetings, call out a specific team member and ask for their opinion.
Each of these practices is guaranteed to ensure your meetings run smoothly every time you have them. Try to adapt or add these into your meeting to ensure everyone can make it through the gatherings with ease.