By Bond Collective Staff
Managing a team of remote workers is fast becoming the new norm for businesses around the world. This change in the way we work makes the virtual meeting a key component of your organization’s success.
Whether you’re a manager coordinating a team of individuals working from home or you’re working from home yourself, the ability to run a productive remote meeting is an essential skill in the 21st century.
In this article, we’ll give you tips for making your next virtual meeting the best it can be.
What Is A Virtual Meeting?
A virtual meeting (a.k.a. a teleconference, teleseminar, or webinar) is a meeting run through telecommunication technology with the purpose of allowing participants in different locations to both see and hear the other attendees.
The origins of the virtual meeting lie in the conference phone call that grew in popularity as a business tool in the 1990s.
With the spread of the internet, improvements in data-transmission infrastructure, and advances in camera and computer technology, it soon became possible to include video and screen sharing in the teleconference as well.
In the early 2000s, further progress in these areas led to a boom in popular products — including Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, and others — that make holding a virtual meeting as simple as tapping your screen or clicking the mouse.
But as easy and prevalent as virtual meeting software is these days, it doesn’t mean you can just open an app for the first time and expect to hold a productive conference.
In the next section, we provide a step-by-step guide for holding an efficient and successful virtual meeting.
How To Run A Productive Virtual Meeting
1) Select The Right App For Your Business
The first step in running a productive virtual meeting is selecting the right app for your business.
Not all teleconferencing software offers the same features. Some only allow a few participants to join and don’t provide screen sharing.
Others allow hundreds to connect to the same meeting and view your desktop, image and video apps, and even select parts of your screen.
Before you buy, try a free version if possible, and then choose the program that best suits the needs of your business.
2) Create A Meeting Agenda
To avoid rambling and straying off-topic, create a meeting agenda beforehand that outlines information about:
Topics to discuss
Notes on those topics
Time dedicated to each topic
Discussion time versus presentation time
When you will take questions Goals and objectives (see next section)
When you provide structure for your meeting in advance — and stick to that structure as much as possible — you improve the likelihood that your virtual meeting will run smoothly and be productive for you and your attendees.
3) Establish Clear Objectives
It’s extremely easy to deviate from your initial purpose and find yourself discussing irrelevant material, especially during a virtual meeting.
To prevent this problem in your video conference, set clear goals and objectives within your meeting agenda — things you must get done — and then make it a point to stick to those objectives come what may.
If you find the discussion deviating from your goals, guide participants back to the main point.
Doing so will keep the meeting on track and leave attendees feeling like they were a part of something meaningful.
4) Prepare Virtual Meeting Attendees
Well before the virtual meeting, it’s crucial to prepare all attendees to participate. This involves three activities on your part:
Ensure all relevant parties have access to the virtual meeting software
Train attendees to use the app
Distribute information they’ll need to participate during the meeting
The first two activities are the most labor-intensive because some participants may need significant time and instruction to be able to operate the software effectively.
The third stage is easier — sending your agenda and objectives — but is no less important because you want everyone on the same page during your video conference.
5) Work Up Your Presentation
Virtual meetings delivered via webcam are very different from meetings delivered with everyone in the same room.
The restrictions of this new medium mean that you’re going to need to spend some time working up new presentations or adjusting old presentations for the videoconferencing technology.
All of this takes time, effort, and careful planning.
6) Test The Software
Before you conduct a large-group virtual meeting, run a smaller version with one or two participants to test the software.
As you explore, note settings you want to change, how to get to features and commands quickly and efficiently (keyboard shortcuts are ideal), and the framing of your camera.
An easy way to do this is to start a meeting on your laptop and then join that meeting on your tablet or smartphone.
With access to the host’s and participant’s sides of the virtual meeting, you can see how everything acts and what it looks like from both perspectives.
7) Appoint A Co-Host
As the organizer of the meeting, it’s your job to focus on the presentation. To help you in this regard, we suggest appointing a co-host.
The co-host’s responsibilities include:
Muting and unmuting attendees
Displaying images and videos
Monitoring video thumbnails
Keeping track of who’s online
Maintaining security at all times
With the co-host handling those tasks, you can devote all of your energy to running a successful and effective meeting.
8) Practice Conducting The Meeting
Once you’ve got all the details set and you’ve appointed a co-host, practice conducting the video conference from beginning to end.
As you practice, write down sentences or phrases to act as cues for your co-host so they know when to display images and videos and when to take them down.
It’s also important to note your timing and make adjustments to keep the meeting within its allotted runtime.
9) Start And End The Virtual Meeting On Time
One of the keys to an effective virtual meeting is starting and ending on time. That means the meeting should take precedence over everything else.
Then, once you’ve started the meeting, do your best to adhere to the agenda you created in order to end the meeting on time.
10) Keep The Chitchat To A Minimum
As with meetings of any kind, it’s easy to allow idle talk to cut into your presentation time — especially at the beginning. When it’s time to start, apologize for interrupting and then dive right into your first point.
If attendees really need to talk amongst themselves, they can organize their own calls when the meeting is over.
Remember, five or ten minutes of chitchat at the beginning is five or ten fewer minutes at the end to get things done.
11) Review And Improve
A successful virtual meeting owes a large portion of its success to the one before it.
If possible, record the conference so you can review it later. Ask for feedback from one or two attendees and then look for ways to improve.
When you take this final step after every remote meeting, you’ll find small changes that will increase your efficiency and help you accomplish more in a short span of time.
Choose The Best Space For Virtual Meetings
Another fundamental piece of a productive remote meeting is the space from which you run said meeting.
If you’re running the teleconference from your home or apartment, position the camera so that it captures as little of your living space as possible. Doing so minimizes background distractions and keeps attendees’ attention on you.
The best option is to run your meeting from a conference room or professional workspace. The coworking spaces at Bond Collective are the perfect solution for all of your remote conferencing needs.
Bond Collective provides everything you need to host your next virtual meeting:
Private meeting rooms
Private phone booths
Fast, reliable WiFi and Ethernet connections
Unlimited black and white printing
Access to other portfolio locations
And other industry-leading amenities
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.