Being able to effectively manage a virtual meeting has become extremely important in this times where many are facing work from home for the first time.
Especially for those that have to coordinate a team, this method can become an even greater challenge.
- Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Find the most convenient time for the meeting
- Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Set the rules on how the meeting will be run
- Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Create team bonding opportunities
- Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Maintain participants committed
- Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Send the minutes after the meeting/a>
- Are virtual meetings always necessary?
Just like in the office, even remotely, meetings with several participants have become necessary to discuss particular aspects of a project or to share updates, to brainstorm and define priorities.
And so the project manager may be faced with a number of doubts:
- How to effectively organize a virtual meeting?
- How to make sure that key people are present?
- What to do to make sure that the information gets properly understood?
The advantages of group meetings, it is known, are great, as long as they are carried out properly.
Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Find the most convenient time for the meeting
During this quarantine situation where employees are approaching telework for the first time, a manager should be particularly flexible with regard to the most convenient time for the meeting.
One cannot rely on the hours normally spent working in the office, as many members of the parent team may find themselves having to deal with their children and have – for the moment – another routine and other needs (in this regard we have given some advice to those who have to manage their children during telework.
That’ s why it is essential to schedule a virtual meeting in time, ideally a couple of days in advance, to allow anyone to make the necessary arrangements or, even better, to ask the participants directly about the time frame in which they consider themselves available.
Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Set the rules on how the meeting will be run
Once agreed the day and time of the meeting, it is very important to set out a number of rules that will help the team to make the most of the meeting.
You can send this list of rules by email or in the internal chat, so you can be sure that everyone has received them.
Here are some guidelines for remote meetings:
- Be mindful of people’s time and alert the coordinator if you are not present.
- Find a workplace with limited or no background noise.
- Mute the microphone when you’re not talking.
- If the meeting requires the use of a webcam, dress and care about your look.
- Check the meeting agenda beforehand and prepare your contribution.
- Don’t interrupt other people when they talk.
- Do not engage in other activities during the meeting – this is especially important if the meeting does not require the use of a webcam.
Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Create team bonding opportunities
Getting to know the participants of the virtual meeting personally can certainly be a huge help to allow everyone to feel more involved.
It is important that this “friendly” part is preserved even during the period of isolation.
There will surely be many colleagues who are already privately in contact with each other, but at the beginning of a virtual meeting, the manager can become proactive asking for example how the quarantine days are going and if someone has some funny episode to tell.
This “icebreaker” is a nice way to reinforce bonds within the team, promote better brainstorming and create an atmosphere of inclusiveness during a long-distance meeting.
Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Maintain participants committed
Undoubtedly it is difficult to control the level of attention of each participant during a remote meeting, especially when not using the camera.
However, there are some tricks to maintain a high level of attention, for example by assigning different roles among the participants.
It is well known that keeping a meeting within certain time limits is essential for a successful outcome, so the “timekeeper” will be in charge of monitoring the clock and not exceeding the agreed time.
Another particularly useful role is that of the person who will write the minutes of the meeting. The person – one at a time – who will be entrusted with this task, will then be responsible for reporting everything discussed during the meeting in a report that will then be sent to each participant.
Another way for the manager to engage employees is to ask specific team members for an opinion during the meeting.
Effectively manage a virtual meeting: Send the minutes after the meeting
As mentioned before, the person in charge of drafting the minutes will do so immediately after the meeting – when the memory is still fresh.
Before sending it to all participants, the project manager will check the quality of the information entered and, once approved, it will become an official document.
The minutes of the meeting will include a list of activities to be done, who is responsible for doing what, and when the goals should be achieved.
Another important part of the follow-up to a remote meeting, especially if it is the first time, is to ask participants if they have any feedback to make the meeting even more productive in the future.
Are virtual meetings always necessary?
Planning a meeting with a virtual team may not be as easy as an office meeting.
People may have other temporary needs and may not always be available.
Therefore, before scheduling a meeting, it is important that the project manager assesses the urgency, importance and complexity of the situation.
In less complicated cases that do not necessarily require an online meeting, there are countless other tools that can be used.
Not only classic e-mails, but also internal chats which, thanks to the new software, now provide a much more immediate and effective communication.
Through a chat it is in fact possible to talk not only with a single person but also create a discussion group.
Moreover, it will be possible to see who is online and the answers will be reported in chronological order in the discussion window, making it much easier to understand than an e-mail exchange.
It has been said that communication is the oxygen of a company and this is an even more valid analogy for a remote team that must necessarily have good communication strategies to survive and thrive.