One of the biggest inconveniences that COVID-19 has caused for businesses is the many meetings and in-person events that were planned. As a result, companies are forced to adapt and move entirely online or cancel events.
Not only that, but we’re not sure how long these sort of conditions are going to last. While Canada itself has passed the peak of cases, there are other countries that are still struggling. Overall, it looks like workshops and online meetings are going to be more common for all of us.
But while the circumstances around this is dire, this is actually a golden opportunity for many individuals who are still willing to learn and grow. The fact more people are online, it’s an opportunity for many people to establish virtual participation as a norm for meetings and communication amongst teams for the foreseeable future.
And one way to really push that is to be better about hosting online meetings regardless of the size. While I’ll be focusing on smaller meetings (between 2 and 25 people), these particular tips can be good for even large online events as well.
Have A Facilitator
When you have physical meetings, it’s easy for us to pick on physical cues and allow conversations to flow naturally without having a specific person to get and keep the ball rolling. Even with video meetings, it actually becomes harder. Those who are quiet will participate even less for example.
To help with conversations moving smoother, you need to have good facilitation. Even outside of video meetings, it’s still a good skill to have and develop. So in the early stages, until people are more comfortable and able to let conversations flow better, have a dedicated individual to help guide the meetings and look at group dynamics.
Have Good Audio
Like with marketing videos or any video we find, we know how important both audio and video is to the quality. If you want conversations to be engaging, you want people to have decent video and audio.
To help with that, ensure that all participants have a headset or good quality mic. Furthermore if they are not speaking, be sure to mute themselves. You can use the facilitator in that respect to enforce that if it’s needed. This is so important because one or two people with poor audio can derail a meeting or make it needlessly difficult.
On that note, it also helps if the participants who are speaking be in a quiet place when they’re in the meeting.
Using earbuds or headset also helps with getting rid of echo on a call. That is a situation where your microphone is listening to your speakers and sending that to everyone (again). It’s super annoying.
Raise Your Hand
We learned this in elementary school I know but it’s an important practice to have during these meetings. One of the biggest challenges people face in these meetings is that people are talking over one another. This can disrupt the audio which is something you don’t want to do.
Implementing this policy can help out significantly in the flow of conversations. All you have to do is raise your hand when you want to chime in about something.
On the other hand you can also use speaker queues as well. Most videoconferencing tools will have buttons to indicate these, however if you’re using video, raising your hand works too.
Don’t Stress Over Which To Use
The videoconference tool industry is vast with many players providing slightly different experiences. Regardless of these differences, each of these platforms you pick from will serve the same function.
With so many options, don’t worry yourself about which one is the best one. Instead rely on your preferences or what is functional at the time of the meeting. My personal preference is Zoom.
Share The Note-Taking Task
If you’re the type to write meeting minutes, video conferences can make this a breeze thanks to various tools. Considering we’re at our computer, we probably have a few other tabs open during that time. With this in mind, you can easily take minutes via a shared notes. All you have to do is open up a tab to a shared notes tool.
Whether it’s as simple as a Google Doc or you’re using Evernote or Etherpad, you’ll be able to take notes with ease but also let people contribute as well. Another thing you can do is use that space to brainstorm ideas or other thoughts. The facilitator can then consult that to keep conversations flowing further too.
Don’t Neglect The Small Things
There are a number of other small things that you can do to improve meetings as well. These may not seem like big things, but if you are serious about doing more meetings over video, they can add up a lot.
Some small things to keep note of are:
Ensure you have a wired internet connection if at all possible.
Close any tabs or applications that you don’t need during the call. It’ll improve your overall video feed which can be big for those using older computers.
Avoid sitting in front of bright windows when the camera is facing you. You want light sources to come from behind the camera or on the sides.
Have Clear Expectations
Before diving into any meeting, you still want to treat this like any other typical meeting. Make sure that you have a clear agenda. Furthermore set expectations and have a few guidelines at the start of the meeting.
By establishing these particular guidelines, you are ensuring meetings can run smoother and that can improve the overall quality of your meetings.
Have Exceptional Meetings
There are many ways that you can improve the quality of your meetings, but it all depends on the dynamic of your group. Encourage people to add their own ideas and suggestions to how meetings can be more engaging in the future. When people contribute to the overall nature of these meetings, you’re setting yourself up for better meetings in the future.