Your Guide to Efficient Remote and Hybrid Meetings
Meetings have always been an essential part of our workdays. Meetings are vital to staying in touch and up to date with current situations within companies with fully remote or hybrid teams. However, today the structure of meetings and teams has changed as remote meetings have become the new norm. With a new way of communicating comes new challenges to keep employees engaged, informed, and productive. To help you keep everything running smoothly, read our six essential tips on running a remote meeting successfully without unnecessary distractions.
Develop a Clear Agenda
Decide ahead of time the main topics covered in the meeting and stick to that plan. This should include the meeting structure, those who will be in attendance, applicable attachments or documents, and any other relevant information. You don't want to spend valuable time trying to figure out what topic comes next or diverging from the goal at hand. Sending out the meeting agenda beforehand to all participants will help them discuss the given topics. A good agenda should start with touching base with everyone. Checking in on people to make sure they are doing well will increase satisfaction and make everyone feel at ease before digging into the main goals. Engaging in these practices will help make sure the meeting starts and ends on time.
At Birkman, we color code our meetings. Red means it will be an action-oriented meeting with quick results. Yellow means it will be all about plans and details with data, metrics, or status updates. Green means we'll focus on stakeholders, customers, or competitors with a "win" in mind. Blue means we will brainstorm with the use of deep conversations. The color-coding makes it helpful for others to know what they are walking into to prepare beforehand.
Focus on the Main Goal
It is easy to stray from the set topics, especially with many people in the meeting. Remind participants of the meeting goal at the beginning to be aware of it throughout the call. Make sure that when addressing a problem, your team doesn't get stuck simply talking about the situation. This prevents progress and supports unsubstantial discussions. Guide the meeting so that the problem is stated, solutions are discussed, and then move on to the next issue.
Coordinate Time and People
It can be tricky to line up meetings with everyone's schedules. Find a time that works for each person, preferably one that avoids cutting into any lunch breaks or holding them after work hours. Keep in mind the different time zones of the people attending the meeting. Then, figure out who is essential to participate in the meeting. It can be challenging to hold a remote meeting with many attendees due to the obstacles of wanting everyone to contribute to the conversation. Any extra participants can add a further distraction to the main goal and waste the time they could be using to be productive.
Motivate and Encourage Contribution
Allowing the opportunity for open discussion is proven to increase positive performance. People enjoy sharing their ideas in an open environment. However, during meetings, introverts are often overshadowed, and thus their ideas aren't heard. As a leader, it's your job to encourage everyone to speak up, which can be done by asking participants directly what they think. Giving people a specific role in the meeting boosts engagement and allows them to take a more active part in the topics at hand.
Furthermore, try to add time in meetings to celebrate any accomplishments or goals met by employees or the company. At Birkman, we allow each person to share what they are working on and any recent achievements. This increases motivation exponentially and helps people feel acknowledged for their accomplishments. Positive results deserve positive recognition.
Set the Meeting Etiquette
Distractions are inevitable, but you can reduce them by setting proper etiquette for the meetings. Many occur because of technical issues such as background noise or visuals. Avoid these interruptions by establishing rules during meetings. Suggesting that everyone stay on mute unless they are speaking will minimize distracting noises or accidental conversations. Nevertheless, you might want your team all to unmute if the meeting is with a small group so you can make sure that everyone has the opportunity to chip in and is paying attention for the duration of the call. If communicating over a video call, encourage people to turn on their cameras. This also urges attendees to be present and creates a more personal atmosphere. Even though you are not meeting face to face, seeing others makes stronger relationships and interactions.
Research says that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken. So naturally, this change of meetings from in-person to phone or video calls can produce a barrier in communication. Luckily, there are still ways that all of these can still be done through virtual meetings to create an inclusive remote and hybrid collaboration with the help of new technology. It may just require more attention to nonverbal cues.
Feedback & Follow-Up
Your job isn't over once the meeting ends. As you get accustomed to running remote meetings, being certain that you are facilitating the most effective outcome is imperative. It is essential to ask for feedback on how the meeting went and what others think could improve future meetings. Sending out a follow-up email with a poll or survey can be a great way to hear back people's thoughts. This also allows you to readdress the main topics covered in the meeting and what the next steps are moving forward. Here are some examples of questions you may ask:
- Did you come across any issues when connecting to the call?
- Do you feel like it is easy to communicate with the team virtually?
- Was this meeting an effective use of your time?
- Do you have any suggestions to make future meetings more successful?
Conducting remote meetings presents many challenges on top of those brought by face-to-face meetings. Using these tips and figuring out what works best with your team will keep them interested and engaged. Moreover, knowing the behaviors and communication styles of those you are working with increases the effectiveness of meetings. Employees and coworkers can be more aware of the best ways to exchange information and ideas with others using The Birkman Method. Knowing how a colleague typically behaves versus what is needed in the meeting is excellent to know for a meeting facilitator. You know what you need to do to get an introvert to speak up or a decisive person to focus more on strategy. Connect with us to learn how you can make your remote and hybrid teams work better together.
About the Author | Brittany Buxton Naething
With a Bachelors in Communications and Journalism from Texas A&M University, Brittany couples her experience in customer relations and passion for making a difference as she works within the marketing department. Outside of work, you can catch Brittany en route to new cities, soccer fields, or at any coffee shop. As Scottish royalty, you might also find her abroad enjoying the Scottish countryside.