5 Tips To Successfully Lead Remote Meetings
Thanks to the seismic shift in the modern work environment caused by the pandemic in 2020, remote meetings are a fact of life for many office workers across the U.S. Companies that previously relied on in-person office meetings found themselves using online tools to achieve the same goals.
Now, even with the vaccine rollout planned and offices having the opportunity to reopen, hundreds of companies have opted to maintain a remote workforce full-time making online meetings an essential part of conducting business. However, even with modern technology, to successfully conduct a remote meeting requires some additional work on the leader’s part. If you’re going to be hosting remote meetings in the future, here are a few best practices to consider.
1. Stack Your Meeting Tools
A meeting isn’t just one person talking into a camera to their attentive employees. A successful meeting consists of three components, whether it’s remote or not: connection, collaboration, and feedback.
Connection is the easiest of the three. If everyone’s “in the room” — cameras on, microphones unmuted — then you’ve established a connection. Collaboration is more difficult, but there are plenty of tools to enable it. If you’re working together on a team doc for next month, everyone should be able to access it simultaneously. Big software applications like Google Drive and Microsoft Teams make this easy by allowing multiple users to simultaneously update and add to any file.
Feedback is easy within smaller groups, but if you’re hosting a meeting or conference with hundreds of people, it becomes more challenging. Some meeting apps allow for viewers to submit questions that appear in a different window for the presenter, allowing feedback to be addressed one at a time. In instances where this is not an option, using a collaboration tool like Dropbox to solicit comments on individual components of a deliverable should suffice.
2. Share the Agenda in Advance
A simple step, but one that is often overlooked. Sharing the agenda ahead of a meeting both sets the tone and direction of the meeting.
To accomplish this, write up an outline ahead of time with the key topics for discussion, any relevant questions to touch off on, and what you want to accomplish. Through the meeting, do your best not to stray from that outline, only deviating if something more pertinent comes up.
3. Ask Questions
To keep people engaged, you need to keep them involved in the content you’re discussing. Asking questions is a great way to do that. To avoid people talking over each other, reach out to individual members of the meeting and ask for their contributions. Stick to open-ended questions like:
- Are you happy with the way we’re doing this?
- Is there anything you’d like to change?
- What’s your favorite part?
- What would make you happier with putting your name on this project?
Getting honest and enthusiastic feedback about your projects can be like pulling teeth, but asking open questions is a good place to start.
4. Send a Follow-up
After a big meeting, send out a summary to the participants that sums up key points as well as next steps. This will help to reinforce the importance of the meeting, and it’ll be a useful resource to look back on. Take note of:
- Important points that were made
- Changes that will result from the meeting
- Each person’s role in implementing those changes
- Follow-up tasks that still need to be done
- Questions that came up during the meeting and still need to be answered
One of the benefits of remote meetings is that they can often be recorded and revisited later. If you can record the meeting and store it somewhere central, and you have the consent of all parties involved, that’s great! If you can transcribe it (there are lots of good transcription tools out there), even better! Anything that allows people to consult the meeting afterward will be helpful in warding off miscommunications.
5. Keep Experimenting
Most importantly, remain flexible. As you continue with remote communication, meetings, and sales calls, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. The important thing is to stick to the core values of your brand and what your company does, and the rest will sort itself out.