The Pandemic has left businesses scrambling to cope with the immense tide of change sweeping across workplaces, homes, and professional circumstances. With WFH and remote working becoming the norm, the definitions of meetings have been turned inside out. Virtual is in – and will continue to be for quite some time to come. With people forced to stay home for their safety but still needing to continue work, Video Meetings have become the mainstay of organizational communications.
Even before the pandemic, many companies have been conducting virtual meetings in order to avoid being hindered by geography, especially in a growing global market. But the pandemic has made it an overnight necessity.
But virtual meetings also have teething problems – a lack of the required equipment such as a reliable internet connection can cause lags and miscommunication between parties. Staying focused is also important. Thus it is the organization’s responsibility to ensure that every team member has all the required equipment to participate in the video meetings such that it gets easier to pass a resolution by a circular during CoVID time.
Let’s look at some ways to ensure that Video meetings are effective:
Ensure everyone has their Camera on
After a lot of video-conferences, one thing is certain – they are much more effective than just audio conferences. It is an undisputed fact that people feel more connected by video-conferencing. What happens is simple – people are more focussed and engaged. Ensure everyone’s camera is on and their mikes are off. Only the people having a conversation need to have their mikes on. Possibly, without videos, participants might multitask or zone out of the meeting. Team members will concentrate because they are visible & “live”. Productivity gets enhanced when every team member is in touch and can monitor each other.
Be empathetic, inclusive and concerned:
Virtual meetings just don’t not have the feeling of actual meetings – hence you will need to show empathy for your people. It’s absolutely fine to show genuine concern – these are extraordinary times and all the rule-books have been thrown out of the window. Communicate empathetically, make them feel wanted and let them know you are concerned. This will enable a direct connect with them.
Ensure that you include everyone in the conversation, not just during the start of the conversation but also through the meeting. Let everyone talk so that they can share their views and ideas as well. This will make people feel that their inputs are valued. Politeness and respect to be core values. Emphasize the need for respect. In case of an overseas call, consider the other person’s convenience as well – if they are only needed for a specific part of the Video Meetings, they can exit after that. This way, you show your people that you care for their wellbeing. Showing concern and being inclusive makes people feel valued.
Enquire if they need anything:
Be sure to ask your staff and team-mates if there are any problems with their equipment, of if they need anything. Rest assured that not everyone was prepared for the sudden shift to WFH or remote working- hence not having all the required equipment. If someone is working from their mobile phones, they may have background noise which is distracting. In most cases, people would be needing on 1 or 2 items they only need one or two items to complete their setups, like the camera or a dedicated microphone and headset. If that’s not possible and your employees have the ability to purchase their own, consider giving them recommendations on what equipment to buy.
Let people share their views:
Though there will be focus and the need to stay on the topic, ensure that you let others share their inputs and views. The leader’s task is to enable the meeting to happen while giving each team member some time to present their views, give updates, etc…You will need to direct the flow of conversation towards the less extroverted team members, so they can share their inputs as well. Thus the engagement levels and team involvement goes up.
Set an agenda & time-limit, stick to it
In a video-meeting, you will need to stay focussed and on point. Thus it is important that you set an agenda, this will help in order to stay focused and on point. Someone can be asked to keep track of time, so the meeting can be crisp and facilitated properly. It is important to outline a framework of the issues and the time required for each. As per the importance of issue, a time limit can be set. This can be monitored and the meeting can be conducted efficiently.
With virtual replacing actual meetings for the near future and in the new normal, it is better to conduct these meetings in a professional and inclusive manner. These five tips will help you stick to the agenda and have participative, productive virtual meetings.
Swapan Dholakia is a senior Communications and Trade Advocacy professional. His current interest areas are trade diplomacy and leveraging Communications to impact society & audiences at large.