Meetings are a natural part of office culture, but managers rarely examine their importance. More often than not, meetings are held because it’s how businesses traditionally share information. However, running a meeting “just because” has its consequences.
MIT University found that 50% of meetings use their time effectively, and that rate starts to plummet when applied to hybrid and remote teams. An ineffective meeting can even lead to “meeting recovery syndrome,” in which attendees lose all motivation to complete tasks.
But hope isn’t lost. An effective meeting can result in many positive outcomes, such as increased agility, cohesion, resilience, and innovation; you just need to know how to run them.
Here are ten tips that will lead to a successful video-based meeting for remote workplaces.
What Makes a Meeting Effective?
There’s a stark difference between an effective meeting and an efficient meaning, but many career professionals will use both words interchangeably.
An efficient meeting is one that starts on time, stays on track, includes a small number of people, and achieves a stated objective. While all of these metrics seem to conclude that the meeting was successful, it doesn’t look at generated value or topic necessity.
On the other hand, an effective meeting includes a hand-picked group that benefits the most from selected topics and encourages open discussion. By the end of the meeting, your team should have a concrete plan of action followed by a decision or an idea to pursue.
More notably, your meeting should be understood by everyone in order to be effective. Meeting best practices, like sharing your results with other team members who couldn’t make it, also apply here. There should be an itinerary or note-taker that accurately jots down key details.
What’s more, using best meeting practices can help shape a positive environment because you have the chance to reinforce a company culture that prioritizes inclusion and mentorship.
10 Effective Meeting Tips For Remote Teams
All employers should try to limit the number of meetings in their organization. The first three tips explain how to prepare for your next meeting, which is an essential step towards keeping momentum in your business. The latter tips will involve meeting best practices and tips.
1. Not Every Discussion Warrants a Meeting
Calling a meeting just because you need to share information isn’t productive. It’s better to send out a company-wide email or text message. We’ll make an expectation for an all-hands meeting because you’ll sometimes need executives to discuss information in person or over video.
To determine whether you actually need a meeting, ask yourself if the conversation requires a lot of back and forth between team members or managers. If your discussion involves team projects, brainstorming, or one-on-one meetings, you’ll almost always need a meeting.
A meeting should be used to create something collaboratively. Goal setting, project planning, and problem-solving are really effective when the whole team is involved.
2. Choose Meeting Participants Wisely
Meetings can be pretty expensive: a one-hour meeting with ten employees who make 60K a year will cost you $420 from lost productivity. The average business has 8 meetings per week across all employee types and company sizes, adding to a $3,360 weekly loss.
Unless you want to burn $161,280 a year on unproductive meetings, only invite the minimum number of people needed to achieve your goals. Include diverse perspectives to maximize group creativity, especially for meetings that involve brainstorming for projects.
3. Share Your Agenda Before the Meeting
Several team members don’t have to be present for a meeting, but unless you share your online agenda ahead of time, they’ll come anyway.
Remember: unproductive meetings lead to meeting recovery syndrome, so you can’t afford to invite the wrong people. To solve this problem, include your full schedule in the invitation. This way, your team members can decline, suggest another team member, or prepare themselves.
Your meeting agenda can include one item, more specifically, the meeting topic. Describe actionable items in result-orientated terms. For example, “Project brainstorming session that helps our organization increase its client base 25% by the end of October.”
4. Use Great Online Meeting Tools
The best online meeting tools are collaborative, feedback-driven, and foster connections in the workplace. Some solutions, like the Google Suite (Docs and Hangouts), support all three points.
Most organizations will combine software to cash in on the benefits of each tool. For example, you could use Zoom to establish a connection and InVision to collect community input. Slack is another great all-in-one solution, thanks to its many integrations and easy-to-use interface.
No matter what you use, make sure it has calendar integration. With this feature, employers can easily see who’s available for the meeting without needing to ask via a time-sensitive email.
5. Prepare a Shared Meeting Space
Remote teams often can’t get together for in-person meetings. That can sometimes make us feel disconnected from each other, which may foster feelings of depression and loneliness.
However, you can create unity by asking all participants to show their faces and home-office backgrounds. You can run a meeting more efficiently if you include chats, flip charts, and online whiteboards. A combination of different shared spaces helps your employees stay present.
Teams may use a combination of tools, like phone and desktop apps, so employees can see the project's details and take notes to a shared or separate Google Document in real-time.
6. Introduce Everyone and Engage in Small Talk
Most remote teams never meet their co-workers in person, so it’s good practice to introduce everyone attending. An important step for increasing meeting engagement is for the meeting host to call everyone by name and role because it makes their staff feel respected.
Another way to increase engagement is by connecting with your team before getting down to business. Participating in small talk helps people feel connected and makes their presence felt in the room. Employees who put themselves out there are also more respected by their peers.
7. Establish Rules and Meeting Goals
After touching base with your team, start discussing the rules for this meeting. While it may be beneficial to create universal rules for standard meetings, others need more guidance. For example, recurring project meetings would start getting longer as the project continues.
In this example, the meeting host has to decide whether they want to add minutes to the meeting or remove the project overview at the beginning of the meeting. Without direction, the meeting won’t be productive, boost creativity, or allow all team members to participate.
For these reasons, it’s important to remind participants of the meeting goal before starting the meeting proper. Use collaboration tools to visually place your goals where everyone can see.
8. Build Trust by Being Inclusive
Encouraging your employees to speak out during a meeting can be a net positive for your organization, but your remote team members will only share their ideas if they feel safe.
Meeting organizers can build trust in the room by being the first to bring up a controversial topic or offer an unusual perspective. Demonstrate curiosity and humility by asking questions you know the answer to. You may even hear a new perspective you didn’t think of or expect.
Make sure you include a whole host of team members who may offer a different point of view. If someone tends to dominate the meeting, put them in the note capturing role.
9. Encourage Result-Based Participation
Asking directly for input is the easiest way to encourage meeting participation. If asking for a “Like” on Facebook leads to a 216% higher interaction rate, then imagine what it could do for your meeting. It turns out that reaching out by asking questions can also keep others engaged.
Still, you need to make sure your questions aren’t off-topic or lack focus. For example, asking “why should we focus on small businesses” is more direct than “can you expand on that?”
By clarifying that participation is expected, more of your team members will speak up. If you’ve noticed that someone is silent, call on them to ask for their input and keep them focused.
10. Send a Follow Up and Progress Check
Remind those who participated about the main points of the meeting and the directions for a post-meeting discussion or action items. Not only will this increase the effectiveness of the meeting, but it also reinforces remote team members that these meetings are essential.
To keep remote working relationships strong, you need to be clear and outcome-orientated with your expectations and performance objectives. Check back with your employees via a follow-up email and ask them to update you on their progress. Make sure they’re completing the project.
Leading a successful workplace meeting starts with the meeting host. They’re in the best position to motivate their staff members to complete their projects and goals.
Keeping your remote meetings engaging is a huge challenge, but by using our tips above, you’ll be able to effortlessly create meetings that keep the momentum going in your workplace.
About The Author
No other thing makes Sari happier than making her points across by using plain yet immaculate English. Being in the writing industry for more than five years, she's confident her readers are doing precisely what is best to make their own decisions.