Did you know that there are approximately 55 million meetings held each week? Due to the pandemic, many of these meetings have become virtual. While virtual and in-person meetings have lots of similarities, there are some important differences to keep in mind.
If you’re looking for information on how to host a successful virtual meeting then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’ll be talking about the benefits of a virtual meeting, some do’s and don’ts as well as some useful tips that will make your next online meeting a blast. Let’s get started!
A virtual meeting is a gathering of people using video conferencing tools and software. This makes communication between participants more efficient no matter where they are in the world. It utilizes video, audio, and text chat to facilitate the process.
It’s an essential tool especially if you’re a freelancer or a remote worker. This is because virtual meetings allow people to:
As long as you have the right tools and a decent internet connection, you can communicate with your clients regardless of where you are in the world. Whether you’re at home, at a co-working space, at a café, or beside the beach, you can connect and discuss important matters.
Many video conferencing tools nowadays have useful collaboration tools that are useful especially for brainstorming sessions. This includes whiteboards, annotation functionality, screen sharing, file sharing, and even virtual breakout rooms. Virtual meeting hosts can also set up one microphone to be active at a given time so everyone in the meeting can get their turn to talk.
Virtual meetings make it easier to stay on track with the meeting agenda. It eliminates small talk that can eat up valuable time so your discussions can stay focused.
As with face-to-face meetings, there are certain do’s and don’ts people need to follow in a virtual meeting. These rules of etiquette play an important role in the success of the next meeting you’ll host. So it’s best to remind everyone to:
Just because you’re meeting remotely doesn’t meet you can show up with unruly hair and in your pajamas. At the very least, put on a clean shirt and make sure your hair is brushed. This not only helps you look more professional but it also helps to put you in the right headspace for the discussions.
Whether you’re hosting a meeting with project collaborators or you’re with a new client, it’s important that your workspace looks neat and tidy.
Make sure your background isn’t littered with distracting items like dirty clothes, unmade beds, not-safe-for-work artwork, and messy rooms in general. If there’s a lot of clutter behind you, try using a preset or downloadable background for your video conferencing tool.
Make sure also that your video is properly lit and that there is not unnecessary ambient noise.
If you’re hosting a virtual meeting for a big group, it’s important to give everyone a chance to speak without being disrupted by mic feedback or other participants talking over a speaker. If it’s not your turn to talk, keep your mic muted as a sign of respect for others in the call.
Effective verbal communication is just as important when you’re in a virtual meeting. If you have a small group of people or if it’s a one-on-one meeting, don’t forget to say hi and introduce yourself.
Furthermore, when it’s your turn to talk, don’t forget to speak clearly. This way, the people on the other end of the line won’t have to strain their ears and hear what you’re saying just fine.
Be sure to eat before a virtual meeting. It doesn’t look professional when you’re trying to discuss important matters with a client while you’re munching on your lunch or dinner. It’s distracting and impolite to the people you’re having a meeting with. You can, however, have a beverage nearby.
Always be attentive throughout the meeting. Don’t fall into the trap of letting your mind wander and check on other things like your emails or social media while you’re on a meeting. Pay close attention to the people who are speaking. It also helps to avoid making unnecessary movements or letting your eyes drift away from the conversation.
If you’re hosting a pretty large group in your virtual meeting, it’s best to test the video conferencing platform you’re going to use beforehand. Double-check your audio and video settings and make sure your internet connection is strong enough. Doing so can prevent wasting time on troubleshooting on the day of the meeting.
Always be respectful of other people’s time by sticking to the schedule set for the virtual meeting. If you’re the host, begin promptly to avoid wasting the participants’ time. It’s best to follow an agenda to stay on schedule and to avoid irrelevant interjections during the meeting.
Hosting a successful virtual meeting comes down to proper prep work and laying a strong set of ground rules that everyone can follow. Here are 8 tips for an engaging, easy-to-follow, and productive virtual meeting:
No one wants to sit in front of the computer for half an hour to discuss something that could take 5 minutes to resolve in an email or even on an instant message. As with face-to-face meetings, you should only hold virtual meetings if it’s necessary. Don’t just have meetings for the sake of having them.
Ideally, everyone in a video conference call should have their cameras on. This allows everyone to see each other’s faces and body language which facilitates better communication.
But sometimes, this can be difficult for some participants in a virtual meeting. They may not have a strong enough internet connection or if they don’t have a private space where they are currently in.
Remember, encouraging video is important but you also have to give people the choice not to use it. Sometimes, it helps people become more comfortable and it makes the environment more conducive for virtual meetings.
Whether you’re meeting with just one client or you’re meeting with a group, it’s important to keep everyone up to speed on what will be discussed during your virtual meeting.
List down the topics that will be discussed and how much time will be allotted for each and send it to the meeting participants ahead of time. This way, they can prepare for the discussions and you can prevent people from going off-topic.
Make sure also to have the agenda close by once the meeting is ongoing especially if you’re the host. This will help you control the flow of the conversation, help people stay on track, and manage the time of the meeting properly.
People can only concentrate for so long before their minds start to wander. To avoid long and winding virtual meetings, limit the length to a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 45 minutes. If your discussions need to be longer, add a 10-minute break in between to give people time to refresh their heads, stretch their legs, and even go get a cup of coffee.
Make sure that everyone in a virtual meeting really needs to be there. Otherwise, you’ll have a long list of people who will have something to say and extend the meeting for longer than it needs to be.
Don’t just invite people for the sake of inviting them. Think about the nature of the meeting, the people for whom the topics of discussion are relevant, and what you wish to accomplish.
Always be a gracious host and introduce everyone in the meeting before beginning the discussions. This is especially helpful if the participants don’t know each other very well. You can also ask them to say a few words about themselves.
As a virtual meeting host, it’s your responsibility not only to keep the conversations on track with the agenda but also to promote respect throughout the meeting especially if you have a large group. Remind everyone that the virtual meeting is a place of mutual respect and collaboration. If conversations become heated, intervene and suggest the people involved to take a few minutes to cool down.
After the meeting, don’t forget to provide a quick recap of what was discussed, what decisions were made, and what actions were agreed on. Let everyone know when the minutes of the meeting will be sent and, if necessary, when the arrangements for the follow-up meeting will be announced. Don’t forget to thank everyone for their time and participation.
Virtual meetings have cemented their place in the way freelancers do their business. It’s an excellent way to communicate with clients and to collaborate with other people all over the globe. With the tips above, you can start hosting a successful virtual meeting in no time.
Are you looking for more freelancing tips? Don’t forget to check out the FreeUp blog. Every week, we have new topics that can help you improve your business, your relationship with clients, and more.
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