In the wake of the 2020 Pandemic, remote meetings rapidly became a staple in the business world. These awkward, hasty gatherings of professionals are essential to the modern workforce, enabling coworkers to coordinate across vast distances.
There are right ways and wrong ways to host remote meetings; many ways in fact. This article will discuss ten ways you can create engaging remote meetings and avoid hosting a snoozefest. Let’s dig in:
1. Share Your Meeting Agenda in Advance
Ideally, you want everyone in your meeting to understand the topic before connecting. For instance, there may be a need to have basic information on a particular topic such as e-commerce, customer support, email marketing, etc. You don’t want to join a call only to find that everyone is gaming out what they’re going to contribute to the topic; you want that to happen in advance.
Sharing the agenda ahead of time will cut out most of the confusion and allow everyone to hit the ground running on a given topic. It’s as simple as making sure everyone’s on an email list and sending the plan out to them.
2. Be a Personable and Authentic Host
Just because you’re in a professional setting doesn’t mean you have to act like a robot. If you’ve ever sat through a meeting with a boring speaker, you know how difficult it is to stay engaged and avoid opening Candy Crush.
Being personable and authentic isn’t complicated; just act as if your coworkers were your friends. Smile, crack jokes and don’t pretend that boring stuff is exciting (that makes you seem fake). If a participant gets interrupted by a family member, lose the scowl and laugh with them. If you’re a fun host, coworkers will enjoy your meetings and stay engaged.
3. Remember Etiquette
On the flip side of being too robotic is being too casual and unprofessional. While you should avoid being too prim and proper, remember that you’re still in a professional environment where people are trying to be productive.
Keep your background free of distractions and inappropriate content, mute your microphone when not speaking, and be polite to others. If you have other people living where you’re connecting from, ask them to avoid distracting or interrupting you during your meeting.
4. Begin With a Good Introduction
Starting off on the right foot will be a huge factor in your remote meeting’s success. When starting the conversation, you should have a thorough introduction prepared that gets everyone on the same page.
Make sure to include these things in your introduction:
- Introduce all participants: Make sure to introduce yourself and everyone participating in the call; it’s important that people know who they’re talking to!
- Make small talk: It’s okay to take some time to have casual conversations with your colleagues. This will build rapport and help everyone feel comfortable
- Set a clear meeting goal: You should have already shared your meeting’s agenda, and what you hope to accomplish. That said, it’s good to reestablish your point and bring everyone up to speed
Good introductions can make a world of difference. It doesn't take much time to do and offers a huge return.
5. Use Icebreakers
Let’s face it: remote meetings can be awkward. Gathering a whole bunch of people together and shoving them in front of their webcams can be weird at first. Some people are naturally amicable to this, while others are introverted and camera-shy, making these events a real struggle.
To help make everyone more comfortable, acknowledge the awkwardness and use icebreakers to alleviate it. Here are a few ideas to make your next remote meeting more fun:
- Would you rather [...] or [...]? For example, "would you rather listen to podcasts or watch a movie in your free time" or “would you rather dive one mile deep or climb one mile high?” The wackier, the better
- Where are you located? If your remote meeting is a worldwide experience, asking your coworkers to share their location can be fun and interesting
- Top three favorite [...]? Ask your peers to pick their top three favorite choices in a given category. Vacation spots, movies, can be whatever you choose
Whatever icebreakers you choose, just remember not to force anyone to participate. Some people are introverted and just as content to listen to their coworkers present. After all, the whole point of the exercise is to make people feel comfortable.
6. Avoid Fluff and Get to the Point
Don’t make your meetings any longer than they need to be. After a certain period of time, people will lose focus and you’ll be speaking into the void. Don’t include too many topics in a single meeting, and always stick to your plan without trailing off too far.
Also, be sure not to invite too many people to an active call. If you have too many people in a conversation, it’s easy to see how the call can be longer than needed.
Finally, don’t make people stay longer than they need to. If you invited a given person just to talk about one topic of a meeting, let them go afterward.
7. Share Responsibility
Just because you’re hosting a meeting doesn’t mean it’s all up to you. When planning your remote meeting, delegate specific responsibilities of the conversion to your coworkers. You can ask them to lead the conversation on a certain topic and enrich the meeting with their unique insight.
In addition, this will help you build rapport with your coworkers. You’ll be showing them you trust them while you all work together to create a great meeting.
8. Use Chat Features
When speaking to a large group of people, it can be frustrating and time-consuming to get responses from each member of the group. Instead of queuing up people to speak, use your meeting app’s chat function to allow quick contributions.
To be clear, these are best for “yes or no” questions that don’t require too much thought. For longer, deeper conversations, it’s best to use your voice.
9. Use Breakout Sessions
Many remote meeting apps offer breakout sessions, which are rooms split off from the primary meeting. Breakout sessions are completely isolated from the main conversation, with separate audio and video feeds.
These are a great way to encourage collaboration among coworkers on a given topic, creating an environment for increased rapport and teamwork building.
10. Use a Good Remote Meeting Platform
If it’s one thing we learned from the Pandemic scramble, it’s that not all remote meeting platforms are created equal. Some are glitchy and slow, while others offer a fluid UI and amazing features. You want the latter since a bad meeting platform can ruin your meetings by itself.
When shopping for your platform, think about your needs:
- Do you often speak to large audiences? Then you’ll need a polling and Q&A feature
- Do you want to share content you’re actively working on? Then you’ll need screen sharing
Take the time to do thorough research and talk to real people who’ve used the product before. Once you’ve chosen a platform, it’s a pain to move over if you decide you made a mistake.
Remote meetings have become a central part of modern professional life.
When they first became popular during the Pandemic, they were seen as a temporary bandage on the distance issue. As working away from the office rapidly became more common, it became clear that remote meetings were here to stay.
With that in mind, it’s essential to conduct meetings in the best way possible. In this guide, we provided you with ten ways to keep your remote meetings efficient and engaging. With that, we bid you farewell and happy meetings!