Virtual meetings have become a necessity in today’s work day, especially for the many employees who are still working from home. As such, it is important to set ground rules for virtual meetings at your company so that the same level of professionalism and etiquette is still maintained over the Internet as it would be in-person.
In this article, we will outline the basics of these rules so that you and your work team can have the most efficient and productive meetings possible without digital burnout or frustration on the part of team members working from home.
Tip 1: Give Advanced Notice When Scheduling Meetings
Nobody likes a last minute heads up that they are supposed to be attending a meeting especially if they are working from the comfort of their own home.
Give your team members plenty of advanced notice before a scheduled meeting so that they can properly prepare not only their materials but also ensure their computer is functioning and up to date so there are no surprises in the middle of the meeting.
A good rule of thumb to go by is giving more advance time the longer the meeting is expected to run because it may require more prep time for everyone in attendance.
Tip 2: Ditch Pre-Determined Meeting Lengths
Just because computer programs such as Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook like to schedule events in neat little bundles of 15-minute increments does not mean that you have to construct your meeting schedules around those times.
Sometimes, meetings need to stretch longer than allotted time frames and your team members need to be aware of when that is the case so that they don’t double book themselves during their work day.
Other times, meetings can be super quick and less than a pre-determined time slot. In this case, it’s okay to let your team members sign off early so they can get back to their work and be as productive as possible rather than wasting time dragging out a meeting until the schedule says you are done.
Tip 3: Set a Clear Agenda
Make a plan for your meeting. Wasting time floundering around to find a point is counterproductive and leaves everyone feeling frustrated. Be sure to state the goal of the meeting, what things need to be addressed, what outcomes you are looking for, and who is responsible for the different tasks.
This will help your meeting flow smoothly and may even allow you to end earlier than expected so everyone can get back to work and be more productive than originally anticipated.
Tip 4: Establish Meeting Etiquette
Video Is (Not) Required
Believe it or not, being in front of a web camera – even if it’s just for a short virtual meeting – can be exhausting. Studies have shown that women especially feel drained after a long day of on-camera meetings because of the constant need to focus on a lens to assure participation.
Let your team members know when video cameras are required – AND when it’s okay to turn them off. If they don’t have to be visually present, they can save their energy by just listening in to the conversation and focusing on the task at hand, rather than if they are looking into the camera correctly. By eliminating the visual component, employees can focus more on the conversation at hand.
Do Your Homework
Since virtual meetings do not involve physically being in the presence of your team members, you can’t hand them a piece of paper with prepared notes and information when they arrive. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t properly prepare for a meeting.
To ensure everyone is on the same page (pun intended) and to use company time efficiently, email any prepared notes or even presentations before the meeting starts so that your team knows what they can expect to get out of the meeting.
Agendas are great, but briefs are even better. Collect and organize your thoughts, add sources or supporting information, and outline potential next steps to discuss with your team. Providing these details ahead of time allow team members to digest important information asynchronously (on their own) instead of wasting time getting everyone up to speed together. This allows for more informed discussion to take place once everyone is “together” to discuss the topic at hand.
Use Meeting Tools More Effectively
The beauty of virtual meeting platforms like Teams and Zoom is the multiple tools they offer to help aid communication during meetings. Video and audio aren’t the only ways to express your input.
Chat rooms and emoji reactions can be very useful to insert questions and give feedback during a presentation without disrupting the presenter. The person speaking can then decide to answer questions right away, or absorb the input as they talk without having to deal with a verbal interruption. Chat is also a great way to share information like links or URLs to support the active speaker’s points.
Virtual meetings have become a vital tool in today’s world of working remotely and communicating with team members residing in different parts of your state, country, or even the world. These ground rules will help you to maintain a professional setting while incorporating the benefits of meeting online rather than in person.