Virtual Meetings 101: The Ultimate Guide to Real Collaboration
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Remember the old days when a meeting meant we would be around the same table in the same room? Crazy, right? The business has changed, and it’s not returning to the old ways any time soon.
For all the convenience and time-saving virtues of virtual meetings, though, they introduce a new set of issues to consider. Poor connections, frozen screens, low-quality audio , and participant disengagement are now things with which we must contend. But there’s no reason to panic—our meetings can still be collaborative and successful. Use this guide and you’ll be prepared to plan your virtual meetings.
Advantages of collaborative virtual meetings
For all of the issues that plague virtual meetings, there are still some clear advantages.
- There are no bad seats. No more trying to see the whiteboard from the back seats or trying to hear over the mumbling of other attendees. Virtual meeting software makes screen sharing possible, so everyone can see and hear clearly.
- Better documentation. If you use meeting software, you can record the meeting and make it available later for anyone who couldn’t attend. It can also help those who are attending to listen more carefully without the distraction of writing notes. They can re-listen to the meeting later if necessary. Everything discussed is documented for the benefit of everyone involved.
- Preparation and convenience. Since you’re sitting at your own workspace or desk in the virtual meeting, attendees have ready access to everything they need – files, notes, etc.
- Simplicity. If you use the right meeting software, logging in and participating can be straightforward and easy.
Meeting etiquette that promotes collaboration
A good meeting, even a virtual one, has plenty of collaboration. Here are a few etiquette guidelines that will encourage collaboration.
- Test all of the technology beforehand.
- Put your phone notifications on silent prior the meeting.
- Make sure each person is introduced during the session and is offered opportunities to contribute.
- Stay focused on the meeting, don’t be distracted by your phone.
- Find a quiet place to join the meeting, free of noise or distractions.
- Acquaint yourself with the agenda and be prepared to participate.
- Don’t do other work or activities during the session.
- Don’t speak over people during the meeting.
- Mute yourself when you aren’t talking.
Virtual meetings aren’t different from in-person meetings in that each person wants to be seen, heard, and respected.
How to run a virtual meeting effectively
Keeping attendees engaged throughout the meeting isn’t easy, but it is doable. Here are a few tips for running an effective collaborative virtual meeting.
Have a clear agenda
Without an agenda, you’re likely to waste your time and that of everyone who attends the meeting. Know exactly what needs to be discussed, who should attend, and what the goal of the meeting is. Send out the agenda before the meeting, so everyone can come prepared to contribute. A clear agenda will keep the discussion on track and productive.
Structure the meeting to encourage collaboration
If you want collaboration, let those present know it. Actively invite their input and ask plenty of open-ended questions to further encourage participation. Virtual meetings can be boring and tough to focus on, but engagement is the key. Icebreaker questions at the beginning and mid-meeting activities like brainstorming sessions in real-time will keep energy levels up.
Select key contributors to participate
Having more people in the meeting won’t necessarily make it a better meeting—the more attendees, typically, the lower the engagement. Your attendee invitation list should only include key contributors – only people with a clear purpose. Anyone else can listen to a replay of the meeting at a later date.
Identify timeframes that fit everyone’s schedules
The nature of virtual meetings is that attendees may be in a variety of geographic locations. In addition to time zone conflicts, there are also scheduling conflicts. Be considerate of the time frames you choose so that team members, even the remote workers, can attend.
Also, schedule meetings far in advance to give people time to clear their schedules and optimize regular meeting attendance.
Be early and arrive prepared
If you’re the host of the meeting, be available at least five minutes early. Ensure that all the hardware, software, and the internet are working well and ready as your team members begin to arrive.
Select a neutral background and limit distractions
Don’t think the meeting attendees won’t notice what’s happening in your background. Be mindful of distractions, including activity going on behind your back during the meeting. Tidy up, make sure you have enough lighting, and sit about 3 feet from the camera.
Start with an icebreaker
An ice breaker may seem like an old idea, but they’re still around because they’re effective. Setting aside a little time in the beginning, to make everyone feel welcomed and included will enrich the rest of the meeting.
Ice breakers have other functions as well:
- Remote workers can become acquainted with each other and the rest of the team.
- Ice breakers ‘warm up’ the meeting space.
- Attendees get to know the roles (and expertise) of other team members.
- Attendees can work out any jitters they feel and get comfortable.
Utilize collaborative tools and software
Collaborative virtual meetings are made possible by using software that facilitates the real-time participation of the attendees. You may look for tools or software for the group or apps that each attendee must download. Both options have their merits. Whatever you decide to use, ensure that it is user-friendly and that your attendees know in advance if they need to download an app.
The tools may aid in the engagement and real-time feedback of your team members. Vibe is an example of a collaborative solution that consists of an interactive digital whiteboard and smart board software. Team brainstorming sessions, virtual trainings , and client presentations come alive with this infinite writing canvas. It works from any device as an all-in-one collaboration hub.
Define action items
The meeting is over, and now the real work begins. End the session by defining the action items discussed, owners, and their deadlines. This ensures you don’t lose the momentum of your meeting.
A clear virtual meeting strategy boosts collaboration
Team collaboration is exciting and advantageous to any business or project. But any collaboration can have problems, even if it has intelligent, capable, experienced members. So a clear meeting strategy , including the above tips and rules, will boost collaboration and ensure that no time or talent is wasted.
Vibe offers a collaborative solution combining an interactive digital whiteboard and innovative smart software. Increase engagement and efficiency at your brainstorming sessions, virtual training, and classroom sessions by integrating your favorite applications with video conferencing and an infinite, mess-free writing canvas. Collaborate today with Vibe.
Looking for the latest in interactive whiteboard technology? Check out Vibe today!