COVID-19 has forced many of us to work from home, which means hosting remote meetings via a conferencing platform or some other means. Hosting remote meetings isn’t as easy as it sounds, as things can get confusing, people can be in different time zones, and some people simply don’t know how to use conferencing tools.
In this guide, we’ll cover five important tips for running better remote meetings. These tips will cover everything from punctuality to using an agenda and allowing everyone a chance to talk. If you’re stuck hosting remote meetings for the foreseeable future, this is your roadmap to productivity.
1. Be On Time, Be Concise.
Time is arguably the most important element of a good remote meeting. Being on time, staying within the time limit, and respecting everyone’s time is the trifecta of good hosting. First and foremost, be on time. Use the saying, “If you’re not early, you’re late.” That doesn’t mean show up to the meeting an hour early, but if you’re the host, you should always be the first one in and the last one to leave.
Secondly, set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it. The more short and concise your remote meetings are, the better. It’s easier to comprehend things when you’ve been sitting in a meeting for thirty minutes as opposed to over an hour. In fact, experts are starting to recommend shorter meetings simply because they’re more productive.
Last, be respectful of everyone else’s time, and expect the same in return. There’s nothing wrong with expecting everyone to be on time to meetings, or with shutting them down when they’ve argued a point for too long. Don’t be afraid to cut people short to stick within the time limit, but be courteous about it.
2. Use the Mute Button.
Not only should you as the host of the call be using the mute button, but your callers should be, too. The mute button is your best friend in a remote meeting. It helps silence background noise and minimize the number of distractions that are derailing your meeting.
Have you ever tried to host a conference call but someone had all kinds of noise in the background? We’ve all been there, and it’s not pretty. After long enough, the background noise starts to drive you crazy, and no one wants to listen to loud music while they’re trying to have a conversation.
Use. The. Mute. Button. Whenever you can, mute yourself. If you have a problematic caller, don’t be afraid to mute them!
3. Give Everyone A Chance To Speak.
Muting people is important, but giving everyone a chance to speak is, too. Attendees will want to know that they have a voice in what’s happening or the topics at hand. Also, when you exclude someone from the conversation, whether by accident or purposely, you’re creating distance between you and them that you might need to recover later.
Everyone should have a chance to speak in your meetings. Keep things short and sweet. It’s a good idea to give everyone a time limit. For instance, if someone wants to argue the opposing viewpoint, give them the floor for 1-2 minutes. Likewise, if anyone else has something to add, give them 1-2 minutes as well.
It’s a good idea to encourage questions and make time at the end of your meeting to address any further concerns or questions. Make yourself available to your team, and if you don’t know the answer, don’t say you do. There’s no shame in looking it up and coming back later.
4. Ban Devices.
There’s nothing more upsetting or distracting than someone scrolling on their phone during a meeting. This applies to remote meetings as well, since most are video chats, anyway. The best way to address this problem is to simply ask that phones stay in pockets, bags, or desks during the meeting.
We all have smartphones, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a part of every single moment of your lives. A meeting is a place to learn new things, address problems and tackle roadblocks, and connect with your team members.
5. Use An Agenda.
The most important (and arguably the simplest) tool at your disposal for improving your meetings is an agenda. A meeting without an agenda is much more likely to become derailed, miss its goals, and leave everyone confused as to what they just met about. An agenda is simple. A piece of paper or an email will work, but the web is also home to thousands of meeting agenda templates you can use to create a more beautified version.
Agendas also help your guests plan for the meeting. Share the agenda and meeting details a few days ahead of time, and give your guests a chance to make suggestions.
The Bottom Line.
Remote meetings can be just as effective as in-person meetings, given the right tools and these five tips we’ve provided. It’s up to you as the host to ensure the meeting is running smoothly with the right tools, a good agenda, and good etiquette among your attendees.