Mention the word “meeting” and you’re likely to hear collective groans from your remote workers—even from those who are working halfway across the globe! But the reason why so many employees feel meh about meetings is because many of them are time-wasters, resulting in neither new information nor better results.
Here’s how to conduct a successful remote meeting and maximize results:
There’s nothing worse than a manager who ums and ahs his way through a meeting. Make yours meaningful by being prepared for it ahead of time—not minutes before it’s about to start.
If you have a global remote workforce, factor in the time zones of those workers who will be attending the meeting. That way you’re not scheduling a meeting for 3:00 p.m. for some workers—and 3:00 a.m. for others. Keep the invite list down to a minimum and send out an outline for the meeting ahead of time.
Figure out the format.
Phone call, video conferencing, shared Google docs—the choices are almost limitless when you consider how a remote office can conduct a successful remote meeting. Smaller meetings can be held over the phone, while larger ones can be easier to navigate through a video call.
If you opt for the video route, clean out your home office, change into professional clothing (i.e., no PJs), and don’t gesture too much (a lot of movement can make the quality of your call decline).
Test the tech.
There’s nothing worse than scheduling a meeting on a glitchy platform, or a video conference when your camera isn’t working properly. So test out your tech ahead of time—make sure that your Internet is up and running and that the equipment you’ll need is working well.
Share the love (a.k.a. the screen).
Screen sharing is the easiest way for your fellow meeting goers to know exactly what you’re talking about when you reference a figure from the first quarter. They can follow along with you as you show slideshows and presentations, all of which can help improve collaboration and cohesion among your team.
Time it right.
In every meeting, there are those who remain mute—and those who view the meeting as their stage and want to stage their own soliloquy. Avoid having the meeting go over time by being upfront about the start and end times.
If you get a Chatty Kathy, politely interject and say that you’d love to hear more after the meeting, but time is running out. You can also appoint someone as the timekeeper to help keep everyone on track.
Ask the right questions.
Ideally, you want to hear from everyone during the meeting…just not all at the same time. So be careful about the questions you ask. If you ask a broad question, your staff might think that they all have to answer it—and all at once. Create specific questions for various teams or team members, and then mention them when asking the question.
For example, you can say, “Okay, marketing, what do you think about this idea?” Or , “Andrea, what has been your experience working with this product?” To not put anyone on the spot, you can outline your questions in your meeting agenda.
Treat it like an in-person meeting.
That means no drinking or slurping your soup while another person is talking. Pay attention when others are talking and don’t interrupt. Put your pug in another room so her snoring won’t be a distraction to your team, and mute your mic when you’re not speaking. And if you’re screen sharing, be sure to minimize or log out of your email and instant message, so you can avoid any emails or IMs from interrupting your meeting—and possibly embarrassing you if they’re of a personal nature.
Wrap it up.
When the meeting comes to an end, send out an email that includes all of the major minutes from the meeting. Be sure to include a plan of action with specific next steps for your workers. Offer to answer any follow-up questions après meeting, and if there are any major issues still unresolved, plan to schedule another meeting. (Which your team will totally love.)
Meetings are essential to the success of any organization. Make yours meaningful by adhering to the steps in the infographic, and you might find that your employees are a whole lot happier the next time they get that meeting invite in their inbox.