Sixteen tried and tested tips from our team for running a productive meeting remotely
The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced companies to get creative about how they connect and meet with customers and teams.
Being a cloud-technology solutions company working with cloud applications allows us to workshop, design and configure systems remotely. With apps like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, working with teams or customers remotely can be easy and cost effective. But making it a positive and productive experience for everyone joining in does take some planning.
Here’s a checklist our team compiled to help you get the most out of your remote session:
1. Share your presentation or any supporting documentation in advance
Have everyone on the same page by sending out any documents or presentations a few days before the meeting. This will allow people to give informed contributions during the session. And should you have any difficulties sharing your presentation on the day via the application, your meeting can continue unhindered.
2. Decide who is running the session
If you’re running a session with a colleague, decide who will be the host during the session. It is important that someone facilitates the discussion. This becomes more vital on a call where you can’t see everyone, to ensure that people do not talk over one another or check out of the conversation.
3. Start with an agenda and a goal for the session
As with all meetings, it helps to get everyone on the same page right up front so you can facilitate meaningful discussions and make decisions.
4. Check that you have the application installed on the device you’re using
This may seem obvious, but take the time before your meeting starts to see to it that you have the software (and latest version) installed and check that you’re able to connect to your own meeting. Don’t be thrown by a last-minute need to download or update. Also take the time to check that your meeting is ready and your audio is connected and working.
5. Ensure your internet connection is stable
As the presenter or host, connect to a stable Wifi, if available, or limit the number of people connected to your mobile data device. This will ensure that you’ll have the best connection speed possible.
6. Have an external speaker connected to your laptop for large rooms
Use an external speaker whenever possible when more than one person is in the room or if you do not have personal earphones. The sound is far superior on an external speaker than on laptops. Jabra, Yealink and Konftel are all good options.
7. Use personal headsets rather than laptop microphones when connecting remotely
Your voice is much clearer to the other meeting attendees and the headsets also tend to cut out distant sounds better.
8. Do not use video unless you’re requested to do so
Although it’s great to see each other, don’t feel you have to use video, especially if your connection is slow.
9. When using video, consider your background
What will people see in the background of your video share? Find an area in your home or office that isn’t cluttered or distracting (or embarrassing) for those watching.
10. If you’re struggling to connect, use the chat feature
If your connection is not stable and keeps dropping, add a message in the chat to let the host know. You can give input via chat, if required.
11. Before you speak, it’s helpful to introduce yourself
“Hi, it’s Wendy, I have a question …”
12. Listen before speaking
When you’re late joining a meeting, first listen to the current conversation to determine whether there is space to announce your arrival. The application will probably let those already online know you’ve joined without you having to say so. And better still, don’t be late.
13. If you are not speaking, mute your microphone
Muting your microphone reduces the amount of background noise on the call which can be a distraction to others in the session. And, of course, if you want to speak, remember to unmute yourself.
14. Think about what you’re losing by running a remote session
When running a more technical session such as discussing integration requirements with a customer, you tend to present little and whiteboard a lot. This may require you to adapt your presentation to suit the screen-sharing options available.
15. Focus on the meeting as if you’re there in person
You can be tempted to check emails or check out altogether when you’re dialling in remotely. Close any unnecessary applications, put your phone away and be present during the call.
16. Make time for questions and answers throughout the session
As the host, ensure people are engaged and participating by building in opportunities for anyone to ask questions and comment on the discussion so far. People may feel uneasy about interrupting, so create the gap by asking “Are we all on track?” or “Anyone want to ask or add something before we move on?”
Remote meetings can be as, if not more, productive than meeting in person, but it does take some planning and being intentional about making it productive for all gathered together.
What is your team’s biggest challenge when making the most of your meetings?