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19 Essential tips to improve your virtual meetings

Published:

August 2, 2023

Updated:

August 3, 2023

With hybrid becoming the work model of choice for many businesses, online meetings are a key part of success. Not only do they allow professionals to have synchronous communication, but also connect with each other from wherever they are– even if with distributed teams across different countries. Following virtual meeting tips we will soon guarantee that employees can digitally meet when working from home and maintain the same momentum they would have in person. 

Video conferencing tools are indispensable for teams to collaborate across distances and are the driving force behind remote work. While this technology is convenient, it also presents unique challenges. From ensuring that all workers are focused to planning these events so that they are efficient, hosting effective remote meetings is key.

In this article, we'll explore 19 essential remote meeting best practices that cover everything from pre-meeting preparations to online presence optimization. Whether you're a presenter or an attendee, these hacks will help you make the most out of your digital encounters while fostering a seamless and productive remote collaboration.

7 remote meeting best practices for presenters

1. Pick the right meeting tool

There are many video conferencing solutions on the market, all of which have their own pros and cons. Choosing the right one depends on the size of your business, the type of meetings you run, and the other platforms you use. For those organizations already employing the Google or Microsoft suites, it is easy to go with their meeting tools as they will be fully integrated into the existing system. Meetings will automatically show up on each person’s calendar, for example. 

2. Set a meeting agenda beforehand and share it with participants

Before the meeting begins, determine which topics you want to cover. This gives the meeting more structure, increasing the chance that everyone stays on track and no time is wasted. Having an agenda also guarantees that everything that needs to be covered is discussed and nothing important is forgotten. You can also share the agenda with participants beforehand so that they know what to expect. Moreover,  those speaking know what to prepare to ensure the discussion is relevant and fruitful. 

3. Send invitations and reminders

Be sure to send invitations for the meeting, which is often done automatically if you use certain platforms, like Google, Microsoft, or Zoom. It is crucial for each participant to have a heads-up so that they can plan their schedule accordingly. For important meetings, an additional reminder to prepare talking points can also be helpful.

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Person on virtual meeting
Person on virtual meeting

4. Create a positive and safe environment

Virtual meetings can sometimes seem very manufactured since they are done online. They lack personal connection and the feeling of comradery. Therefore, it is essential to create a positive culture to make people feel welcome and part of the team, even if they are working remotely. For example, break the ice with team-bonding activities, such as having them share a fun fact or a highlight of their week. 

5. Encourage turning on the camera and interacting in the chat

To further create a culture of teamwork, encourage your staff to turn on their cameras. While it is important to acknowledge that not everyone is comfortable doing so, having most of the team participate helps mimic the feeling of in-person interactions that many of us are missing working from home. Additionally, this ensures that everyone is paying attention to what is being said, as you can see who is actively listening and who is not. It also enables speakers to know they have an actual audience they are talking to rather than a sea of black screens. 

6. Boost conversation and feedback

Good meetings are ones where participants interact and have a lively conversation. Each person should be encouraged to share their thoughts and feedback. You want to avoid having a single speaker giving a monologue where attendees listen without being asked their opinion or to engage. Instead, leaders should make it entertaining and show they are open to feedback and want to ignite dialogue. Some employees are more shy than others, so pass the conversation over to those who may not speak up. But managers should also make sure not to force these people as it can make them feel uncomfortable. 

7. Make use of the interactive features integrated into your video conferencing tools

Many video conferencing platforms have great integrations that will make your meetings run smoothly and help guide the conversation. Some have whiteboards where you can have a brainstorming session with your team. Or, if you are in a large meeting, you can create breakout rooms where smaller groups can discuss the same topic so that everyone’s voice and opinions are heard. 

👋 Learn more about the best practices for remote work communication!

Woman taking meeting from home office
Woman taking meeting from home office

6 virtual meeting tips for attendees

8. Prepare and check the meeting topics ahead 

Before hopping onto a virtual meeting, attendees should know what topics are being discussed so that they can prepare content for dialogue. If everyone joins the meeting without any preparation, not only will it be inefficient, but the goals set may not be achieved at all. Instead, being aware of what topics are up for conversation allows each person to organize data, get clear on their perspective, and brainstorm new ideas prior.  

9. Don’t be late

Just like an in-person meeting, be on time to online meetings too. If your team has to wait for you to get started, you are not only delaying progress but also disrespecting their time. Often, meetings follow a set agenda and being late can push it back and disrupt the flow, causing it to run longer than expected. In turn, other important topics and tasks get postponed. 

10. Avoid multitasking

We understand that it is tempting to multitask during a virtual meeting. It is easy to click open another window to do other work, search the web, or read emails, but this hinders your capacity to listen to the topic at hand. If not fully engaged in the conversation, you can’t contribute in a meaningful way. You never know if another team member is saying something that might be helpful or relevant to you.

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11. Put your microphone on mute when not talking

To prevent disruption and noise, put your microphone on mute when you are not talking. While you might not be sharing, background noise can be distracting. A loud car zooming past or chattering from the cafe you are working in might sidetrack your co-workers who are trying to listen to the person speaking. So, simply mute yourself if you are not intervening. Just don’t forget to switch the microphone back on when it is your turn!

12. Take notes

To get the most out of the meeting, be sure to take notes. While not everything being said is relevant to you, keep note of certain things co-workers mention. It can for example be improvements that need to be made or tasks they are reminding you of. Although many of us use project management software to handle tasks, sometimes teammates think of a quick fix or task during a meeting. Write down these instances so you can get back to them instead of leaving them neglected. 

13. Notify others if you have to leave before the end of the meeting

With virtual meetings especially, they may overlap with each other. Say someone books a meeting with you without double-checking your schedule. In such an instance, when you have to leave a meeting early to hop onto another call or to go to another engagement, alert your team members instead of dropping off without warning. They might have a reminder for you or simply be confused about where you have gone. No need to interrupt the conversation. Many platforms have a chat function where you can write a message saying you will be leaving early.

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Woman on virtual meeting on couch
Employee on virtual meeting

6 setting tips to improve the online meetings experience of all remote professionals 

14. Prepare your meeting

Prepare for your meeting by getting your space ready. As we will soon explain, the right lighting and a quiet, distraction-less workspace makes all the difference. Along with organizing your workspace, and getting familiar with the subject, plan an ice-breaker activity to build a community feeling and give everyone a moment to get comfortable. The beginning of the meeting is also a good time for updates, so list any that might be important for your staff to know. As for employees, they can write down questions they have ahead of time about the topic or any comments or concerns they may have. 

15. Choose an environment with no interruptions or distractions

When attending a meeting, set up your workspace in an area with little distraction. It is first important to note that this is a luxury not everyone has access to. Working parents have to watch their children and those who live with roommates might not have a separate work area. But, if you have a quiet place where you can take calls, it definitely helps with focus. Additionally, use noise-cancellation headphones if you have them so that the noise of the outside world does not interfere with your meeting. 

16. Set up the right lighting

Lighting is crucial for making you look professional in virtual meetings. Natural lighting is best. Yet, in the early morning or winter months, the weather isn’t always on our side. Definitely do not sit in a dark room where no one can see you but also avoid different color lighting that might distort how you look. A simple light or even a ring light, if you want to go the extra mile, will brighten up your face. 

17. Check your equipment is working

Before the meeting, do a test run to be sure that everything is working. As many of us have experienced, technology can sometimes be finick, and there is nothing more frustrating than losing an internet connection or being unable to hear your teammates. So, double-check that your camera and microphone are working, be sure that the videoconferencing tool is updated, and run a test on the internet connection.

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18. Wait for your turn to speak

During the discussion, wait for your turn to speak. In virtual settings especially, it can be overwhelming when more than one person is talking at once since the sound is all coming from the same speaker. For those listening, they can be confused and unable to follow the conversation. Also, out of respect for others, don’t interrupt. Instead, be patient and wait for your turn or use the ‘raise hand’ function on your meeting platform to alert the other that you have something to say. 

19. Turn on the camera if possible

Many of us feel a lack of connection when working from home because we don’t have moments to interact with colleagues personally. Many conversations happen over text chat, which might be efficient but is extremely impersonal. So, when meetings are scheduled, make sure to turn your camera on so that you can mimic in-person interaction as much as possible. It also shows that you are focused and respect those that are speaking rather than working on other tasks. Being on camera keeps you accountable to be paying attention and being present. 

Remote meetings have transformed the way we work, enabling teams to collaborate seamlessly from any location and even across time zones. However, making the most of them requires to follow some virtual meeting best practices such as careful planning, active participation, and a proper digital environment. By picking the right meeting tool, setting a clear agenda, and encouraging engagement, presenters can ensure a focused and productive discussion. Attendees can improve their experience and that of their teammates by preparing beforehand and avoiding distractions, such as working from somewhere noisy or attempting to multitask. Additionally, maintaining professionalism by turning on the camera and muting when necessary can create connections among remote colleagues and keep everyone accountable for participating actively. So, next time you log in for an online event, remember these key virtual meeting tips to make it more effective and successful.

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19 Essential tips to improve your virtual meetings

Annabel Benjamin

Annabel is a hybrid work expert who combines insightful strategies with practical applications to help navigate the changing landscape of modern employment. Her writings provide a wealth of tips, best practices, and innovative approaches to boost productivity, foster team cohesion, and maintain a healthy work-life balance in hybrid settings. 

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