The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way organizations do business and especially the way meetings are conducted in organizations. With a majority of employees still working from home and the need to maintain social distancing norms, there has been an unprecedented growth in the popularity of virtual meetings. These meetings are conducted online with the help of various digital tools and technologies. While these virtual meetings provide an effective solution for organizations to connect with their remote working employee, more than not the productivity of such meetings are in question. Hence, we have put together this guide with the 5 best tips to enhance the productivity of virtual meetings that can help organizations and their managers maximize their output.
Why have Virtual Meetings become so popular?
Virtual meetings make it possible for employees to meet and interact with their co-workers and supervisors without being in the same physical location. Organizations are leveraging a wide range of online conferencing platforms such as the Zoom, Google Meet, MS Teams, WebEx, Skype, etc. for this purpose. There are many reasons for the growing popularity of virtual meetings:
1. Extremely Cost-Effective
Virtual meetings, unlike face-to-face meetings, are extremely cost-effective. This is because the participants attend these meetings from wherever they are located, eliminating the need to arrange a space large enough for accomodating all attendees comfortably. Moreover, organizations are saved from the expenses of providing refreshments, stationery, etc. to the meeting attendees.
2. Offers Flexibility
Virtual meetings offer flexibility by enabling the participants and organizers to overcome the challenges of space and time. They can be organized at any time of the day, even outside the regular office hours, after considering the availability and convenience of all the participants. They also offer flexibility in terms of the number of attendees, which can range from just two participants, or even large groups of dozens of employees.
3. Suitable for Diverse Needs
Virtual meetings can be used for diverse purposes. From discussing a business strategy or employee performance, to even celebrating achievements and milestones, these meetings can be organized to meet specific business requirements. They can be streamed live or even recorded and shared with participants who can then respond to the point discussed as required.
4. Ensures Safety of Participants
Considering the current pandemic, social distancing, employee health and safety is one of the topmost priorities for any organization. This is one of the factors behind the growing popularity of virtual meetings in recent times. Most organizations have mandated the use of virtual meetings not just for remote employees but also for employees who are working from the same office to minimize the spread of the infection. While the pandemic might ease over time, such practices might continue for much longer.
5. Extremely Convenient
Virtual meetings are extremely easy to set up and even easier for the participants to attend, often with just the click of a button. The organizer or the host has control over different aspects of the meeting such as the number of participants, the schedule, and even who can speak and for how long. Also, these meetings can be set up at very short notice, which might not be possible for physical meetings.
How can we enhance the Productivity of Virtual Meetings?
Despite the fact that the concept of virtual meetings has been around for more than a decade, its large-scale adoption in organizations is still a relatively new concept. Hence, in most organizations, a significant chunk of the employees are still trying to get a hang of how things work.
There are significant advantages of virtual meetings that cannot be ignored. Since it is fairly evident that virtual meetings as a trend will only continue to grow in the long term, organizations and their employees will need to figure ways to enhance the productivity of virtual meetings. Here are the 5 best tips:
1. Set Clear Agenda
Organizing a virtual meeting with no clear purpose often results in confusing the participants and wasting their time. That is why it is important to create a proper agenda and communicate the same to all the participants much before the meeting so that they can be prepared with their talking points. There is nothing worse than meetings that are titled as ‘team meeting’ or ‘all-hands meeting’ without a proper agenda.
2. Ensure Familiarity with Technology
A lot of time tends to get wasted when one or more participants who are unfamiliar with the technology fumble with the tool being used. The meeting organizer should ensure that all participants are familiar with the conferencing platform being used for the meeting. If required, the meeting organizer should share the usage instructions or even a tutorial video with the participants.
3. Eliminate Distractions
In order to enhance the overall productivity of the virtual meeting, it is important all distractions are eliminated. This can be ensured by the establishing the ground rules at the very start of the meeting, restricting the use of phone, email, messenger, etc, and clearly defining the meeting etiquette such as keeping oneself on mute when others are speaking or using the ‘hand signal’ when wanting to speak. This will help the participants to stay focused and ensure that the meeting is highly productive.
4. Engage Participants
Ensuring engagement of participants is important for the success of a virtual meeting. For this, the meeting hosts should make ensure that they pay attention to every single participant and give them an opportunity to express their views and opinions. It is also important to pace the meeting properly to cover the entire agenda and keep the sessions animated and interesting. Otherwise, participants may get ‘switched off’ during the meeting and stop contributing to the discussion.
5. Adhere to Schedule
Setting, and adhering to the meeting schedule in the strictest manner is essential for maximizing the productivity of virtual meetings. This includes ensuring that all participants join on time and are given a reasonable time to speak. The meeting host needs to ensure that time limits are adhered to and the topic of discussion does not diverge from the agenda. Only then the objectives of the meeting are likely to be fulfilled.
Virtual meetings have become an integral part of business operations for most organizations, especially during this pandemic. Given their significant advantages, they need to enhance the productivity of virtual meetings for higher business impact.
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