Remote work has certainly shown its utility over the past months, but despite this there are still many businesses who struggle to effectively run remote meetings. As remote meetings aren’t likely to phase out anytime soon, we felt it would be helpful to offer some tips to help make these meetings a little smoother for all involved.
An in-person meeting and a meeting through a conferencing solution can admittedly have two very different feelings to the participants. The kind of participation that comes somewhat naturally in an in-person meeting can suddenly feel entirely foreign, the visual context cues that would normally drive the conversation stripped away using technology. As a result, awkward pauses and missed line items abound. This can easily lead to people increasingly talking out of turn, while others will remain silent. One way to help mitigate this is by distributing an agenda with assigned segments beforehand. That way, each team member will be responsible for some facet of the meeting, with the bonus of being able to prepare ahead of time to increase the meeting’s benefit.
This isn’t the only way you can keep your team members involved, either. You could also assign tasks for people to take notes or to keep track of the time remaining in the meeting. As a result, the whole team stays engaged in the meeting, and therefore will be more apt to contribute to the discussion.
Have you ever sat in one of those meetings where the group was so big you felt as though you couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and that even if you did, only half the group would pick up on the point you made? An overly large remote meeting can work the same way. Lagging technology and people fighting for the chance to speak can make conversations difficult, and the increased background noise could easily drown out any productive conversation.
Therefore, smaller remote meetings are invariably better, as a more natural conversation can quickly take over and there is a reduced chance of distracting background noise. As a bonus, the smaller meeting size means that each person has a chance to contribute proportionally more to the meeting, increasing their engagement with it.
Having people mute themselves during a remote meeting is like having a mime join a choir—there’s very little that they are going to contribute.
In addition to preventing people from contributing (potentially sacrificing valuable ideas), muting could also allow people to dissociate from the meeting completely. If they’re muted, one of your participants could be listening to a podcast, for all you know. If anything, allow brief muting to help hide noisy interruptions, like a sneeze or an unaware family member, but that’s it.
What have you done to keep your meetings running smoothly? Share your strategies with us by putting them in the comments!
Seán is the Managing Director at Aniar IT Services and has been working in IT for over 20 years
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