Businesses have been running effectively across geographies, thanks to the world of virtual conferencing. However, many folks find attending meetings boring, a waste of time, and a speed breaker in their regular meetings when one can take decisions over emails. The thoughts remain the same whether this is a meeting in the virtual world or offline, or a hybrid meeting.
Harvard Business Review highlights the need for several tweaks between virtual meetings and in-person meetings. First, it is important that, as an organizer, you share a meeting agenda with those invited ahead of time. This enables them to prepare for the meeting.
Here are some hold a meeting tips on online meeting etiquette.
1. DND Mode
As you work from your home, there may be situations that could disturb you while in a meeting. It's best to let people at home know that you are attending a meeting if you are sharing common spaces. This includes putting your cell phone on to your voice messages during an in-person meeting.
2. Camera and your visibility
Virtual meetings limit your visibility, making it difficult for others to pick up any non-verbal cues. Most folks don’t switch on their cameras, limiting others to pick up non-verbal cues. Hence, switching on your camera on a virtual call makes a strong case, especially as companies have progressed to a hybrid office model. Use your body language and tone to influence and create an impact.
Ensure that there is no lighting is behind you. This could flash into other cameras, making you invisible. When talking with others, look at the camera on your system. If you look into the screen, it will show that you are reading from notes, or your eyes are lowered when you speak to them.
3. Set ground rules
For large duration meetings or one with many participants, it is advisable to announce set ground rules and announce a co-host. While setting ground rules, participants are given guidelines of how you expect things to stay focussed, what is expected and not expected.
The role of a co-host generally remains restricted to assisting the main speaker by managing discussion in a chat window, managing participants' attendance, and any other tasks. Announcing the name and role of the co-host is always helpful.
4. Being on mute
When you are not speaking, it is best to remain in a mute mode to hold a meeting. This restricts the number of ambient noises that add to the listeners on the other end, often distorting the reception.
5. Keep a Focus
To hold a meeting and keep any meeting focussed, use the agenda points agreed upon and the time allocated against each. Should you have a delay, some agenda points may not get covered. Most organizers maintain a high focus using the meeting agenda, eliminating any distractions. You may want to highlight the meeting guidelines or housekeeping rules at the start of the meeting.
6. Let people know when you have finished.
When you attend an in-person meeting, you often come to know when someone is finishing a meeting. This is because you get to observe verbal and non-verbal cues. When you finish speaking, it's a good practice to hand the control to a particular attendee, or open up for questions or move to the next person. Signposting is an important way to do this.
7. Avoid multitasking
Most folks during a virtual meeting tend to multitask as they try to complete their work. Scrolling your phone for Whatsapp messages, checking your emails, or more distract you. It would not be very pleasant to know that you are not tuned in should your name be called out. Additionally, you may miss important parts of the conversation, which could impact you later.
8. Don’t interrupt
Virtual meetings usually consume a lot of time as people land up interrupting others. This happens more in virtual than in-person meetings, as non-verbal cues are not visible. However, it is suggestive that you 'raise a hand,' ping the organizer on a chat window or wait to ask when prompted.
9. Other etiquettes
Here is some more basic etiquette that could help you manage a virtual meeting.
Dressing: Some folks have had embarrassing moments in a virtual meeting as they dressed only 'half and upwards.' Do not take any chances. Get ready for meetings in the same way as you would for an in-person meeting. This ensures your internal comfort with yourself and others.
Acknowledgments: Maintain your focus on the person who is talking and on the screen being presented. Acknowledge the speakers with non-verbal nods (or verbal nods when in a small group meeting). Participate in discussions by looking at the speakers or the audience in their eyes. Do not be looking out of the room or up in the air when you are speaking with others. It could mean that you are cooking up things or just not interested in the meeting for some folks. Such things normally take you away from a meeting.
Chatbox: Always use the chat window to raise a question, seek clarifications, comment as the speaker is speaking or when asked to. Use the chatbox and raise your hand when appropriate. Give the person talking time to finish what they are saying.
10. Making Meetings Effective
Organizing and attending meetings is having its toll, especially during the pandemic. Microsoft has announced a No-Zoom Friday as its policy to prevent meeting fatigue. Check if you need to organize this meeting? Is it critical? Can you make do with emails or a poll?
Visuals: Add visuals to your meeting presentations with minimum text. Visuals make meeting topics interesting, easier to understand, and less verbose. Adding infographics, graphs, and other visuals makes it effective.
Break-outs: To keep people engaged, you may want to add break-out rooms to your meetings – depending upon your meeting topic.
Art of small talk: Always ensure that you have built time into the meeting schedule for people to meet informally.
11. Action plans
Ending the meeting with an action plan makes the outcomes much more focused and fruitful. For example, the meeting organizer may summarize and allocate tasks for the next meeting or catch-up.
12. Minutes of the meeting
It's best to follow up and hold a meeting with minutes circulated on what was discussed and the action plans agreed upon. In addition, you may add other details of meeting logistics to the meeting minutes for recordkeeping.
While there are many software solutions to help you address these, consider Autonomous Hybrid Office, one of the best hybrid work software.
Making the most out of your meetings helps you, your participants, and the organizations save time and money. Of course, that's what you would want. Isn't it?
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