2020 was tough, but the positivity and adaptability of our colleagues has been amazing. We’ve worked through the inevitable teething problems and now have over 900 active Microsoft Teams users within the Cpl Group.
We’re “meeting” for coffee, we’re chatting with colleagues about projects and we’re making lots of calls. Most of all we’re having video meetings and video conferencing with our teammates, clients and candidates.
To help keep meeting etiquette in check and move all our meetings online we’ve been sharing daily remote meeting tips of the day. Here are some of our top tips to ensure all your virtual meetings run smoothly and you get the most out of every video call.
10 Remote Meeting Tips & Tricks
1. Lights, Camera, Action
Most of us hate putting our camera on for meetings, either due to the bad upward angle, a bad hair day or you might still in your pyjamas, but your camera is a way to let people in.
Video creates a more collaborative face to face feeling, allows eye contact and is more courteous to other participants. When using your camera be conscious of lighting - if you are in a dark room you won't be seen. Natural light is best, but if not an overhead light that isn’t directly behind you (causing a halo effect) is good. To get rid of that bad camera angle, set the camera to eye level. Use a few books or anything that works, you’ll thank me.
Use your video preview to check everything is working ok. If something doesn’t look right take action and correct it. Move position, open or draw the blinds and fix that hair. When you feel comfortable, this will come across in the meeting.
2. Muting Etiquette
Unless you are late joining a meeting, don’t enter it with your mic muted. When you join greet those in the meeting or on the call, as you would in person.
Once you have done that, it’s a good idea to mute. Not muting is the new reply all. It distracts others and makes it harder to focus.
When we’re at home we have more than just office chatter. There might be kids, or a pet or your housemates could be making noise in the background.
To avoid unnecessary distractions remove as much of that as possible while in a meeting. Don’t worry, you can still have your kids or pet say hello but just mute after that.
3. Get Involved
If you were sitting in a meeting or conference room it would be obvious when you understood, agreed or disagreed with something that was being said.
Online meetings can make this more difficult, but with your camera on, there are ways to show you are engaged. Speak up, – the host and other participants will appreciate it.
You can also use the chat function, which is available on most online meeting tools, to send links or make comments.
4. Engage the Group
If you are hosting a meeting, get the group engaged. At the outset ask a question or mention that questions are encouraged.
I’m not talking about ‘Mastermind’ style questions. It doesn’t have to be anything complex, just something to encourage engagement and feedback. It’s not rocket science (unless that’s the topic of your meeting!)
5. Be Present
In a normal work setting, we’re faced with distractions every day – emails, deadlines, urgent requests. Now we have the added distractions of our loveable pets, our kids (or partner) or a roommate also trying to survive the day. Not to mention our mobile phones.
Some distractions we can’t help but others we can. Don’t have the TV or radio on in the background during a meeting. It will distract you and everyone else in the meeting.
Regards your phone, put it away, turn it over or turn it off. If you don’t need it for the meeting, then don’t have it in the meeting.
6. Timing & Time Zones
Timing is important for any meeting. If you have attendees from other locations and time zones, be considerate and choose a suitable time for everyone. You wouldn’t want a 5am meeting and nor will they.
Become the person known for starting on time and the one to end on time too. This shows people you respect their time. If you do think your meeting could run over, call it out and give people the options of staying on, dropping off or creating a follow-up meeting so no one feels impacted.
I like to plan my content for 30 minutes and my meetings for 45 minutes. This gives a buffer for running over and if you don’t need it, you get to tell everyone how much you “appreciate their time so let’s end it there if there is nothing else”.
This is a great trick to show you control your meetings and value your team members or clients.
7. Meeting Participants
The invite list shouldn’t be like a VIP list for a gala event. Don’t invite people who have nothing to contribute, they could become a distraction.
Worse still they might ignore future invites from you, thinking it could be another waste of their time. To ensure everyone that should be there is there and involved, tell them why they are there.
At the outset or in the invite make it clear why you are inviting them and what form the meeting will take. The best way to do that is an agenda.
8. Stick to the Agenda
Remember the reason you are having this meeting or call. Getting off-topic can cause others in the meeting to lose focus. If this happens, they could drop off the call or start working on one of their other tasks or deadlines.
As the host, call out and pin any other topics as and when they come up. Suggesting a separate call or meeting to discuss those is a nice way of moving the meeting forward.
As the host of a meeting, it’s your choice what software or meeting tool to use. Choose wisely and consider your audience.
If it is an internal meeting, most people should have the same virtual meeting tool so there should be no issue. With any external people, you need to choose a software or tool that is easy to use and needs very little set up.
The last thing you want is someone needing Admin access to download new software to meet with you. I suggest a tool that can have a web-based interface which everyone will only need the internet to access.
This is also a point to consider when you’re not the host. Always check you have access to the software or tool that the host has selected. If you need to download software, do it in advance and run a quick test. You need to know how to navigate around to mute, unmute etc.
We use Microsoft Teams but some other popular meeting software includes Skype for Business and Zoom.
10. Always Follow Up
No matter what the meeting was you should always follow up. Meeting notes should be shared, and action items assigned where necessary. Some virtual meeting tool allows you to take notes and assign tasks as the meeting progresses.
You should also consider whether recording the meeting is useful. The recording can then be sent to both those who couldn’t make it and the attendees. This allows everyone to review the meeting talking points and ensure everyone’s on the same page for the next meeting.