Where once virtual meetings were a rarity, nowadays in what they call ‘the new normal’ they are a necessity for any successful business.
Unfortunately many business owners and managers are finding these meetings hard to handle; employee conduct being the most common complaint.
- With only the head and shoulders usually visible many employees deal with emails or their own private lives, (Facebook being the most common complaint), during the meetings.
This can be resolved in two ways – get the people in the meetings to show their full torso on the screen, then they cannot use their hands to write personal messages or reply to emails. Open their Facebook pages, (or ask a secretary or colleague to do this), to see if they are posting during the meeting. If you catch them once, or maybe twice and reprimand them, chances are they will stop.
- Technical difficulties are also common
There is little you can do about this. If someone had a bad internet reception in their area, that is out of your control, but you can prepare an outline of the meeting and forward it to them beforehand, or during the meeting, so they know what is being discussed.
Ask everyone to ensure background noise is kept to a minimum, and if possible headphones are used.
Lack of preparation can cause boredom before you even get to say anything important. Research the people you will have present and make sure they all know how to use the technology. While you are explaining to a computer newbie that they need to ‘click the little button on the top right – no not that one, the one…’ others may lose interest.
Preparation to virtual meetings is different to live ones, or at least it should be. Apart from ensuring everyone knows how to use the technology, send a memo in advance, outlining what each person must do. Not every participant can see everyone else, so before speaking it is a good idea for each person to say ‘Mr Jones from finance’, then to continue with his speech or question.
- Attention Span
People’s attention span seems to be much shorter on a computer than in real life, so cut out any waffle. Keep it short, simple and to the point. Do not allow participants to go on and on, again point this out in a pre-meeting memo.
In a live meeting it is easy to see who is speaking or who has not managed to voice their opinion. Keep a check during the meeting and ask anyone who has been silent if they wish to add, comment or question something.
- Record and Transcribe
Record the meeting and ask a reputable firm like London Transcription to transcribe it. Send copies to all participants, and to anyone who was unable to be present but who is involved in the matter at hand.
Remember, this is not a room full of people interacting with each other or watching others body language; it is someone staring at a screen and nothing else. Short is better.