Running remote meetings is now a way of life in business. With it becoming increasingly likely that teams are spread out across locations and time zones, with some members office-based but others working remotely, the reality is that these types of meetings, rather than the face-to-face, round-a-table kind, are becoming the norm.
And like any other meeting, there are things that you can to ensure that your remote, real-time meetings are as effective as possible, delivering the key objectives which each team member can take away from the event. Here are seven of the most important considerations for running these types of online meetings:
Preparation is key
In many ways, running remote, real-time meetings is a lot like running physical meetings, and it all starts with preparation. Preparation means deciding if the meeting is even necessary, as too often in business meetings are held when in fact, an alternative solution would have been better (such as some simple correspondence).
Central to preparation is what you want to achieve, and from there you must identify the key stakeholders and participants, and even consider if this type of meeting is going to be possible, or worthwhile.
Other elements of preparation will be mentioned later.
Choose the right software
This is absolutely crucial. There is so much software available on the market now, and so much of it free, that you really cannot fail to find the correct tool for the task at hand. But research is key here. List down all the functionalities that are non-negotiable. How many people will be involved in the meeting? What exactly will you want to share in terms of audio, visual, and other types of content? Do you need to see each other, or will just being able to hear each other suffice? What will you need to share and how much will each meeting member need to participate in terms of demonstrating or even amending content that is presented?
These are all the important considerations and form part of the planning process. Ask around, and conduct due diligence. In the beginning, you may find that there is a short period of trial and error in which you reject and accept different technology and software accordingly. And finally, make sure everyone is able to use it easily. Software that is complex and requires large amounts of training to use is probably not worth it.
Have you thought about time zones?
This is a simple consideration, but did you even think about it? Just because it’s 10 am and therefore a productive and accessible time for you, is it the same for everyone?
If it’s a case of you just cannot find a time that is suitable for everyone, and therefore someone is inconvenienced in terms of time (for example, it falls late in an evening when they should be enjoying personal time), then thank them for being involved, and try to structure the next meeting so it’s not always the same person or people making the sacrifice.
Do you have an agenda?
What are you going to discuss? How strict will you be about deviating from the agenda? Time limitations are often key here, but having a clear agenda that has been distributed to all attendees in plenty of time in advance of the meeting is critical to the meeting’s success. Failure to do so is just poor preparation.
Do you have all the key stakeholders involved? Are you inviting someone just for the sake of it? Will someone feel left out because they are not involved? Sometimes, when things are done remotely, keeping someone in the loop is as important as anything else, so seek out feedback after the meeting itself to see if participation was useful for all.
Everyone must input
And after people have been invited, include them. Sitting in on a remote meeting where you have nothing to say or contribute can be a frustrating and isolating experience, and will demotivate that employee.
What are your decided actions?
Perhaps most important of all, what are the actions to be performed as a result of the meeting, and who is responsible for them? How will they be followed up? Should you set the next meeting now while you have everyone together? These details don’t change from the classical meeting structure.
About the Author: Aimee Laurence is a Marketing Strategy Manager at Academic Writing Service. She writes about work ethics.