Today, businesses are adopting remote working environments all over the world, and Active Youth is no exception! Distributed teams need to consider how to develop good working relationships with remote colleagues and how, including through online meetings, to collaborate effectively.
Your team can have online meetings that are just as efficient and interactive as having everyone in the same place, with some planning and a game plan.
As the saying goes, “to be prepared is half the victory.” If you go to an online meeting with a game plan, before and after you meet, you’ll see better results. ✨
💡 Here are a few tips:
1.Create ground rules ✔️
Ground rules include the meeting etiquette and will assist in the process by respecting the time and ideas of everyone and by providing a clear structure for discussing and resolving critical agenda items.
- Give the participants a list of ground rules;
- Challenge the participants early and often on the ground rules.
2. Create an agenda ✔️
An agenda that will help everyone come to the meeting on the same page and keep members focused on goals is a vital part of meeting planning💻.
A good agenda is less about your ability to conduct an online meeting and more about motivating participants to understand, particularly people who are not in the same room.
3. Prepare your space ✔️
Find a quiet environment before the meeting, where you can limit distractions. To eliminate background noise and reduce audio feedback, use headphones. 🎧
If you are working with new conferencing tools, before the online meeting starts, do a test run.
4. Slow and steady ✔️
Keep the pace of your online meeting a bit slower than in-person meetings.
Owing to a two to three-second delay for most devices to interact, video-conference meetings should actually move at a slightly slower speed than a normal meeting.
5. Use your words ✔️
🗣️ Try to be extra descriptive if you’re not sharing your screen and need to explain something that remote participants can’t see. This will help you communicate clearly and effectively.
6. Take great notes ✔️
Effective note-taking is something that can help all meetings, and there are plenty of ways of taking useful notes 📝. You might well switch to online mind maps if you want to take shared notes during an online meeting.
⌛ After the Online Meeting
1.Recap before you’re done ✔️
Make everybody summarize the action items for which they are accountable when the meeting is about to end. It is a way of ensuring that everyone knows who is dealing with what and ensuring transparency. When you can’t see facial expressions or body language, the extra clarity is particularly helpful.
2. Save your debrief for later ✔️
Especially if you have just finished a high-stakes meeting, debriefing with colleagues is always our first reaction. However, hold off until you’re out of the room. You would never want to overhear something from remote participants that you didn’t intend to reveal because they hadn’t left the video conference yet. Wait until you’re out of the room, as a general rule, to discuss something that has happened.
3. Share notes ✔️
📝Do you remember those wonderful notes you took? Make sure everyone involved has access to them. This can be another excellent way of establishing a common picture of what was decided, who is responsible for what items of action, and what to follow up with in the future.
⚠️ The Challenges of online meetings
When setting up online meetings, we often make the mistake of treating them the same way as in-person meetings. Yet online meetings have special challenges of their own. When preparing, facilitating, and following up, we must take these into account in order to keep our meetings useful and efficient.
1. Zoom fatigue and reduced productivity 📌
Virtual calls and meetings are comparatively easy to set up, some leaders and project managers may abuse their accessibility.
The solution to this issue with virtual meetings is simple: schedule fewer meetings. As a project manager, you can choose to batch meetings with specific departments on specific days, limit meeting duration ⏱️, and use collaborative workspaces to handle quick questions and updates.
2. Technical issues and losing time 📌
The best solution to this recurring challenge in virtual meetings is to have a tested backup plan. As a project manager, you should send out the details for the backup plan along with other relevant information and agendas for your meetings.
This way, if you face technical challenges, you and other attendees can quickly switch to the backup conferencing plan without loss of time in your meeting schedule. Ensure that attendees are familiar with the virtual meeting options you use.
3. Distant time zones 📌
As the project manager, you may fall into the habit of prioritizing your and your team’s time and schedules, but it’s wise to factor in other attendees as well. Spend time thinking of how you can make it convenient for everyone to join in at a reasonable hour 🌐.
4. Communication gap 📌
Virtual meetings are limited to audio and visual cues, unlike in-person meetings where body language, tone of voice, pacing, and gestures add to a speaker’s words.
Here are several steps that can solve recurring virtual meeting challenges and help you communicate your key points clearly 👌 .
Lack of visual feedback
Always make sure that delegates have the video on, and that they know that this will be the case in advance of the session to avoid any issues.
Lack of engagement
Each participant will bring different levels of motivation and commitment to participating in the workshop/meeting, which in turn can impact their behaviours and approaches, as you can see in the image below 👇
Get people engaged
On camera, doing / commenting / pressing things every 5 minutes or so. Set tasks. Use breakout rooms to get them working together in smaller groups where there is more accountability, interest and individuals can contribute more easily✅
Being creative and interactive
Use the screen share, chat roll and breakout room functions in your main meeting tool combined with other tools such as Mentimeter, Google docs & slides, Mural, Stormz, Miro, Sessionlab and Stormboard to massively expand the creativity and interaction in your virtual facilitation design and delivery.🎨
Perceptions of time & attention span
We need to be health and attention span aware when we’re designing online meetings. From a sitting and screen-time perspective, an hour is ok. If you go beyond that, please do build in enough breaks.
⚡It doesn’t need to be hard to handle virtual meetings. There are a couple of obstacles, of course, but they are super-easy to handle! ⚡
Only introduce easy solutions such as those mentioned in this post, and it won’t take your remote team much time to function as effectively as an in-office team.
Want to know more? Check out our workshop on YouTube! 👇
More online tools for collaboration on projects
Check out this blog post, which talks about the best tools for (team) collaboration online. Note: especially useful when designing / implementing projects. That is the reason they are used by top NGOs globally.
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