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Virtual meetings 101

Meeting over Microsoft teams or Zoom has become the new normal but how can we be as effective in online meetings as we are in face-to-face meetings? Here are nine basic points to know so that you can excel at virtual meetings.

1.  Send out a pre-meeting package

If you are hosting a meeting, a nice touch would be to send a pre-meeting package with some treats for your attendees to enjoy during the meeting.

2. Get dressed

When you work at home, you may have got used to dressing more casually than if you were in the office. When you attend online meetings it is important to dress appropriately for the meeting. This will help you to be confident and professional. It is also crucial that your whole outfit is professional because if you stand up for any reason in the meeting you may flash an undesirable view to your fellow online attendees.

3. Check out the available technology

There is a wide variety of platforms available to do online meetings. You can use Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype. Each platform has its pros and cons and therefore it’s important to test out the platforms and find the one which works best for your team. When you have found a platform you are happy to work in then you may want to take it for a test run before you start to have meetings on it. This will also help you to create an onboarding document for your colleagues.

4. Create an onboarding document

Some people may not be familiar with the platform which you have decided to use. In the document, you should include how to join a meeting, how to share your screen, and how to open the chat. You could also have a test room available where people can go to see how the platform works online.

5. Watch your body language

With online meetings, sometimes non-verbal language can be lost or misinterpreted. It is important to realise that you have a smaller area in which to gesture and if your gestures are too big it won’t be seen because it has gone out of the visual space. With virtual meetings, we lose tactile messaging through handshakes and eye contact. Therefore it is important to be on time for your meetings and to have eye contact with your fellow attendees when you are speaking. Ensure you have a good chair which ensures that you will have a good posture while in a meeting. If you slouch or hunch up during the meeting this may send the wrong message to your attendees and they may think you have no interest in the topic being discussed.

6. Don’t multitask

You may think that it’s OK to multitask while in a meeting but people will be able to see that they don’t have your full attention because you are looking in a different direction on the screen. With your divided attention, you may lose important information which is being shared in the meeting and you may disturb other attendees with the sound of your keyboard while you type.

7. Establish a good meeting area

You need to find a room in which you will not be disturbed. You can put a “don’t disturb” sign on the door. You should ensure you have a neutral background which won’t distract your attendees from your conversation. If you struggle to find a neutral background, you can use the virtual backgrounds which might be part of the platform you decided to use.

8. Create an agenda

An agenda helps a meeting stay on track. You should try to send out the agenda a little bit before the meeting so that your attendees can prepare for the meeting and know what the meeting is about. Remember time is money and if the meeting wastes an attendee’s time then you have lost money and the productivity of your attendee.

9. Understand meeting etiquette

In a virtual meeting, all attendees must mute their microphone because they may have some background noise which could disturb the meeting. If you have new attendees in the meeting, you may let them introduce themselves and ensure you advise them about the etiquette rules for the meeting. It’s is also critical to advise people if you are recording a session and if you want their video on or not.

By following these nine basic points, you will be well on your way to having a great virtual meeting.

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