Particularly in today’s climate where many executives have shifted to work-at-home environments, business leaders are embracing virtual meetings as an effective way to achieve a myriad of goals, including webinars, training, and conferences.
While it’s unlikely that meeting virtually will completely replace the need for face-to-face interaction, its convenience can serve to enhance a business’s productivity. However, knowing how to properly utilize the technology is equally important.
Here are 5 ways to conduct more productive virtual meetings in order to meet your business needs.
Set the tone
As a leader, it’s your job to set the tone of a virtual meeting. Rather than delegate an overabundance of tasks, start the meeting by reconnecting with your employees. Ask them how they are doing on a personal level, read an inspiring quote, or take a minute to thank someone for a job well done. These simple acts will set the tone of the meeting before moving on to the actual business at hand.
Stay on point
The advantage of conducting virtual meetings is the ability to hold them almost anywhere; however with that perk also comes disadvantages. Business leader and author Rick Maurer, advises against trying to cover too many things in a single meeting. “Keep the focus on one or two topics. If you must cover more items, then give people time to stretch, take a bathroom break, or replenish their coffee. Keep each segment of the meeting short – no longer than 30 minutes,” he says.
Cater to attendees
Whether you are meeting with a potential client or your employees, it’s best to cater the content to the audience that’s in the virtual room. For instance, the accounting department might appreciate data-heavy slides and a deep dive into the numbers, while a potential client wants to see bullet points and a more straight-line approach of what you can accomplish for them.
Chris Kape, President of JAMCO Capital, an early stage venture capital and consulting firm in Vancouver, Canada, notes: “If you’re not sure what style of meeting will work best, do a bit of research ahead of time to know your audience. Ultimately, most people appreciate that you’re taking the time to plan and make the meeting as effective as possible.”
Give full attention
Working from home can present a whirlwind of distractions, from background noise to other outside interruptions. Susan Colaric, assistant vice president for Instructional Technology at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida says, “Give your full attention to the participants as you would if you were in the same room. Don’t be distracted by e-mail, Web surfing, or texting.”
When conducting an effective virtual meeting, as leaders; stay attuned to the needs of your audience, and keep your ultimate objective in mind. It’s important to be flexible, even if the agenda you planned out goes off course. In short — go with the flow, be ready to adapt to changes, and keep an open mind.
With some well-thought preparation and consideration for your audience, you can hold effective virtual meetings that will ultimately lead to more team productivity and accomplish your business goals at the same time.