After almost two years of working from home, it’s safe to say that virtual meetings are here to stay.
The opportunity to include everyone, wherever they are, far outweighs the obvious limitations that hosting an online meeting has. Yet, paying attention to virtual meeting etiquette can offset many of those restrictions.
Here are five top tips to have a successful virtual meeting in 2022.
1. Manage the time you have
Every Zoom user has been there. They log on for a 45-minute meeting but nothing happens for at least 15 minutes due to lack of organization or over-organization.
The first thing to ditch is roll-call. Depending on the size of the meeting, this can take a few minutes and is one of the fastest ways to discourage participants from engaging. If you need a log of attendees, ask everyone to type their names in chat. If you’re doing it as an icebreaker or introduction, just don’t do it. Instead, ask speakers to introduce themselves the first time they contribute.
Maximize the time you have in virtual meetings by starting with an agenda. When all participants have an agenda in advance, they’re mentally prepared to engage. Block out the time you’ve scheduled into short chunks so the facilitator has a tool to move things along or bring the focus back to the matter at hand.
2. Share clear instructions in advance
It’s great digital meeting etiquette to share important information before the meeting starts. This should include the agenda discussed in tip #1 but also clear log-in instructions. It pays to spell out the process for logging in, what details everyone will need to enter, and even how to download the application. Ask everyone to arrive in the waiting room five to 10 minutes before the scheduled start so they have time to troubleshoot. The law of online virtual meetings dictates there will always be at least one person that will have trouble joining!
3. Establish your online meeting etiquette
There are some universal rules for virtual meeting etiquette, whatever app is used. You should include this information beforehand, but a reminder from the facilitator at the beginning of the meeting is good practice. Ask everyone to turn their video on and phones off. This helps people pay attention in the meeting without getting distracted by text messages or a conversation with someone else. With their video off, it makes it easy for people to drift away and do something else. If your online meeting involves more than a handful of participants, ask everyone to mute themselves until it’s their turn to talk. The facilitator should have the ability to do this, too, but it saves time making this a rule from the outset.
4. Keep participants engaged
Unlike face-to-face meetings, virtual meeting etiquette on Zoom requires the facilitator to make sure everyone gets involved. When meetings take place in person, it’s pretty easy to jump into conversations when you have something to say. With online meetings, it’s much harder to find space to talk. If it isn’t managed well, several important voices will be lost and people will disengage. Encourage the use of “raise hand” facilities, regularly ask for input, and ask questions of specific people so everyone has the opportunity to take part.
5. Have a clear purpose
Your agenda will give structure, but it will be useless unless there are clear goals included in it. This is true for any meeting, but with online meetings, people can be scattered across the country or even the world, which makes follow-up much harder. Good online meeting etiquette means you should have a defined purpose or outcome. Send out notes afterward, including deadlines for responses or information with individuals’ names next to them. This will keep the meeting laser-focused and make sure everyone knows what they need to do afterward.
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