Whether you’re holding meetings via email, chat, phone call, or video conferencing software, you know that virtual meetings present a special set of challenges and benefits.
Here’s how to make the most out of your virtual meeting time:
- Decide on a meeting format
- Communicate clearly before the meeting
- Test all technology
- Have a leader
- Break the ice
- Minimize distractions
- Wrap it up
- Send a follow-up
Decide on a Meeting Format
Before you send out a single meeting invite, decide on the best way to host your virtual meeting.
Do you need to see everyone’s face?
Is there a single presenter in your meeting?
Programs such as GoToWebinar allows a single presenter to run the meeting, placing all attendees on mute automatically. This can streamline large group meetings and minimize unnecessary distractions.
Are you hosting a hands-on training?
GoToMeeting features a screen sharing tool so meeting attendees can take mouse control on a different person’s computer. This is a great tool if you are training your team on a new product and want them to be able to try it out for themselves.
Are you looking for a call-free meeting?
Communicate Clearly Before The Meeting
Now that you know how you’ll be hosting your virtual meeting, communicate to your team. Send a calendar invite through Gmail, Outlook, or however your team manages schedules. Clearly indicate the meeting’s start and end time, the purpose of the meeting, and how the attendees should join the call or video.
If it will be a video meeting, be sure to inform the attendees–your team will appreciate the heads-up to change out of their pjs!
Test All Technology
Especially if you’re using a new software, you need to test your technology before it’s meeting time. Here’s your checklist:
Ensure that you have speakers or headphones attached to your computer, and that they are working correctly.
If your computer doesn’t have a built-in webcam, attach one, and make sure that it’s working. For both audio and video, check that your computer system preferences are set-up to allow the program you are using to access your microphone and camera.
If you’re using a new platform, create any necessary accounts, and make sure your computer is signed in and ready to launch your meeting.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you test, you will inevitably face technical issues. Having a back-up plan and a relaxed attitude will help you face these challenges.
Have a Leader
One of the main downfalls of virtual meetings occurs if there’s no clearly defined meeting. Like in-person meetings, the best way to guarantee a successful and efficient virtual meeting is by assigning one person to lead. Whether that’s you or one of your team members, one person should have a clear agenda and be prepared to lead the group through the topics that need to be covered.
Break The Ice
Because of the current pandemic situation, many people are far more isolated than ever before. With this in mind, it is critical to your team’s mental well-being to continue to encourage the social connection that they would normally experience in an office environment. One way to foster this is through ice breakers at the beginning of your virtual meetings. You could simply check-in and see how everyone is, or ask your team specific questions, like “What’s one thing that brought you joy today?” or “What are you most looking forward to about this coming week?”
Now that you have everyone in your meeting, it’s important to keep everyone as focused as possible. First, it’s critical to request that your teammates refrain from multi-tasking during meetings. Although this can be tempting, it leads to less productive and connected meeting times.
Additionally, if you’re struggling with distracting background noise, ask the other members of the meeting to mute their microphones if they are not speaking.
Wrap It Up
Just like during in-person meetings, it’s critical to know when to wrap up your virtual meeting. Otherwise, your team will waste time lingering on unnecessary calls. Determine a cut off time before the meeting, and stick to it. But if you’ve addressed everything on your agenda, end the meeting early! Your team has enough going on, so they will appreciate the extra time to work on their other tasks.
Send a Follow-Up Email
After a virtual meeting, sending a follow-up email can help your team know how to move forward. If there were action items discussed during the meeting, be sure that a specific person is assigned to owning those tasks. Otherwise, thank them for their time and attention, and summarize the main points of the meeting.
And, of course, don’t forget to be kind to the parents on your team.
Virtual meetings will be a lifesaver to you and your mortgage team during this uncertain time. Just like traditional meetings, they require a plan, and a clearly defined goal. Test out your new technology, and know that technical difficulties are inevitable.
And don’t forget to take the time to connect with your team members–working from home doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on human connection!