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Five Tips for Hosting Remote Meetings

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As companies transition to remote work environments, virtual meetings have become the new norm.  While this is great news for Zoom and GoToMeeting, the rest of us may need some time to adjust.  For those looking for guidance, here are five suggestions to help you get the most out of your meeting.

Schedule it out – Prepare an agenda that you can share with attendees prior to the meeting, and if the meeting is more than an hour, schedule a specific timeframe for each topic.  This will allow attendees to be prepared for the meeting and will help keep the group from running overtime.  Don’t forget to schedule in periodic breaks.  No one wants to hear their colleague preparing lunch in the background because no lunch break was provided.

Know your platform – Familiarize yourself with your virtual meeting provider and the features of their product.  Know which tier you have subscribed to, and the associated limits and benefits.  A great example – last year I invited ten individuals to a virtual meeting, who then each invited another ten individuals.  This maxed out our attendee limit, effectively blocking all latecomers from joining the meeting.  While we were able to continue the meeting, conferencing in additional attendees separately was unnecessarily disruptive.

Limit attendees – As a follow-up to point 2, consider how many people need to participate.  When scheduling an in-person meeting, the size constraints of the room often limit the number of participants.  Just because you can invite 100 people to an e-meeting, doesn’t mean you should.  When deciding whom to invite, consider whether each attendee has a specific role.  Will he/she be reporting on a particular agenda item?  Is he/she a key decision maker?  If not, consider using your meeting provider’s auto-record feature, and then send additional team members the recorded video after the meeting.  Another option is to invite certain folks for the part of the meeting that is relevant to them. Having an agenda with designated timeslots (see point 1) will help streamline this.

Dress for success – While it can be tempting to attend a virtual meeting in your pajamas, wearing your office attire helps you transition to a business mindset.  For meetings where video conferencing is in use, this is even more crucial.  It’s also worth considering your background surroundings and coming up with ways to minimize interruptions.  I’m sure everyone remembers the BBC reporter who was interrupted on live tv by his toddlers breaking into his home office.

Do a dry run – If it’s your first time hosting a meeting on a specific platform or using a new feature, it’s important to do a dry run.  Can you keep track of all the attendees, mute certain participants when necessary, share a portion of your screen, change the presenter, start and stop your recording, etc.?  If you have attendees who are new to a specific platform, it’s helpful to reach out to them a day or two before the meeting to help them test the platform and address any technical issues.

What are your favorite tips for hosting remote meetings?  Let us know in the comments or on LinkedIn.  We’d love to hear from you.