What processes are necessary?
Virtual meetings are a great option for all types of companies. They are booming due to the situation we are living in and thanks to the technological advances we are experiencing. The emergence of software and productivity tools facilitate our daily tasks and are now applied to a virtual workspace.
We find that the costs of operating with a virtual network are much lower than those involved in face-to-face operations. Also, it allows companies to expand their work and hiring options in terms of employees.
Another advantage is a significant increase in productivity, as these digital services’ free workers from commuting and certain administrative tasks. However, a protocol and operating rules are needed to successfully establish a productive virtual working method for your company.
First of all, the ideal is to enable a quiet and uncluttered workspace, although a face-to-face office is no longer required. This will help you to fulfil your virtual tasks and meetings with greater ease, avoiding distractions.
For virtual meetings to run properly, a certain amount of preparation time needs to be devoted to them.
First, you must select the platform you will use and then, it is necessary to send the following details to all participants in advance: the link of the meeting, the start time and the key or password if required.
The next step is to plan and communicate the topics to be discussed during the meeting and to establish a method of organization so that all attendees can contribute their opinions and ideas. One method is to assign shifts alphabetically or by screen order in the video conference.
Likewise, the implementation of basic rules for virtual meetings is required. It is essential to remind employees that, even if they are in a virtual environment, they have the responsibility to pay maximum attention, what discards that they can carry out other tasks while the meetings pass.
In addition, to avoid distractions due to background noise in their environment, those present may be advised to mute their microphones while they are not speaking.
Here are some essential rules for virtual meetings:
- Do not use the keyboard during meetings, it can be annoying and distracting.
- Invite only those who need to be invited. Inviting people who don’t need to be there is a waste of time for everyone.
- Confirm time zones for meetings, do not assume that all participants are in the same time zone.
Which tools are helpful?
When it comes to choosing interactive tools for virtual meetings, we must carefully review the features they offer and see which one suit our needs best. To improve the relationships between virtual teams, it is better to use video conferencing platforms, this encourages closeness between workers, helps to maintain interest, offers personalization of the conversation and allows you to pick up more signals in terms of facial expression and body language, than if they were only chat or audio meetings.
Due to these different communication channels you achieve using video conferences, it will be easier for the participants to correctly understand the message the speaker wants to express. Keep in mind that only a small percentage of the communication consists of the actual words you speak, the more important parts are the voice and intonation and the body language of the communicator.
The physician Leonard Mlodinow summarized this well in a quote:
“Nonverbal communication forms a social language that is in many ways richer and more fundamental than our words.”
To set up your video conferences, here are some of the most popular tools:
- Cisco WebEx
Furthermore, it is highly recommended to use other additional platforms to obtain a satisfactory virtual experience; tools that allow you to carry out surveys and votes, capture comments in real time, collect information and add notes. They can not only be used to get an idea of the opinions of the team members, but also to motivate them to participate due to the interactivity of these tools.
Some of the platforms you can try out in your meetings are:
- Poll Everywhere
After ensuring that your team will be able to access these selected tools correctly, it is necessary to have a plan B for possible technical problems and to draw up a list with possible answers to questions about their functionality or the most recurrent technical faults.
Who is in charge of the meeting?
It is true that, compared to face-to-face meetings, virtual meetings involve more preparation time and communication strategies. For the same reason, it is necessary to appoint a person in charge of coordinating the meetings and capable of guiding the discussion, this is the role of the facilitator.
The facilitator, is the figure that will help you to mediate and improve communication in the virtual workspace, will ensure that all participants are involved and have equal opportunities to speak.
An icebreaker can be used to start the meetings. The icebreakers can be activities, games, discussion questions or just questions to be answered individually. For example, you could ask everyone to talk about their favorite film or show us a picture of their pet.
This simple action at the beginning translates into an improvement in the development of the conversation, since the participants do not know each other well or have not had much time or opportunity to relate, it familiarizes them, relaxes the atmosphere and strengthens interpersonal relationships.
How do you follow up with the attendees?
When your work depends on a team, motivation is one of the best and most important tools to ensure that the people you work with perform at their best. To encourage these people to present the required activities, one of the most proactive things you can do is to let them know that their tasks are being followed up.
Another approach we propose is to assign deadlines, such as “I need this by Tuesday, then I’ll check it”. This will ensure that after a few follow-ups, people will get used to a certain performance, realize the responsibility involved and therefore act accordingly.
It is important to keep track during virtual meetings so that participants are stimulated to stay focused. In order to achieve that, keep the following advice in mind:
- Maintain active communication
- Pause the discussion and ask for feedback
- Propose activities that require information retention
- Ask questions to persons in particular
Therefore, it’s really important to also follow up virtual meetings afterwards. This can be done with an individual or group evaluation, anonymous feedback, the distribution of the protocol or even individual smaller follow-up meetings where more details can be defined.
The protocol should include the following:
- Time and date of the beginning and end of the meeting
- Names of all present and apologies for absence
- All agenda items
- Every decision that was made, Date, time and place of the next meeting
It’s important to remember: A meeting never stands for itself, it’s a tool on the way in order to achieve results.
How can DL support the process?
Virtual meetings can be a big challenge for companies, especially regarding the situation and the quick change. DL can help with the changing process by offering coachings, councils for virtual meetings and help establishing the right process.
Also, by providing online courses for different topics, such as softskills so that the workers know the correct behaviors in that kind of environments.
One of the courses even explains the organization and follow-up of virtual meetings very detailed, giving tips and advice you can apply in your company right away.
Do not hesitate to contact us and we will solve all doubts in your process of adaptation to the virtual work. We will be working with you together until we achieve your goals.