If you have ever been a part of a too-long, pointless meeting that led to no good results, you would agree that meetings are just as likely to be a time-wasting activity as it is to be a healthy, productive session focused on a certain goal. A recent Harvard Business Review survey confirmed that 71% of senior associates or managers consider meetings unproductive and inefficient. Besides this, 65% of them also said that meetings keep them away from completing their individual tasks on time.
Indeed, meetings are an integral part of doing business. Since the onset of the pandemic, they have taken the form of remote team meetings and continue to exist nowadays. If you, being an employer or senior executive, feel there’s something wrong with the way meetings are conducted, it’s time to make amends or improvements. Ultimately, you would expect remote team meetings to improve productivity at work.
Before we move to the actionable part of tips and tricks to be followed, let’s uncover various types of remote team meetings first.
Classification of Remote Team Meetings
Let’s start with the types of remote team meetings that can give you the most bang for your buck –
When you have new hires in the team, those individuals need to learn a lot to become go-to players in their respective teams. This is where onboarding meetings come to the rescue and facilitate the beginning of required training. These meetings help the new joiners in understanding the company’s structure, upcoming projects, their individual roles and responsibilities, and most importantly, set early-stage expectations.
These types of remote team meetings become a great place to fill your team members and let them know about a new initiative or project. Most of these meetings are effective by nature as people need to get along actively with the project goals to align their work schedules accordingly. Particularly, their individual buy-in is quite important to succeed along the lines of the project.
Almost every business runs and is eager to accept new ideas. Brainstorming meetings are the ones that keep the river of ideas flowing constantly. They can be designed to generate multiple ideas in a short period and are critical in solving a problem or achieving a specific goal.
A key aspect of these types of remote team meetings is that they are more focused on the ideas and not the outcome.
Learning from experience is good for every professional irrespective of his niche or expertise. To make your team learn from a project or activity, feedback meetings are just as important as kickoff alternatives. They provide you with the opportunity to talk about what went well and what could be improved further.
Financial or budget meetings
In every business including yours, there can be significant communication around money, which makes financial meetings a crucial part of the rotation. They are more about figuring out how much to pay or earn, who is going to pay, and when.
Now that we have a brief glance at different types of remote team meetings, let’s unravel what’s there for improving the outcome of these meetings.
How to Prepare For, Hold, and Improve Remote Team Meetings?
- Pick the right meeting tools
If you look at the core structure and functioning of remote meetings, most of them are based on the balance between three parameters: collaboration, connection, and feedback. Reduce the proportion of any of these parameters and you will most likely feel bad about the meeting.
For example – if the meeting attendees only listen to what is being said without sharing any inputs or asking for any feedback, the experience will suffer.
This is where having the right meeting tools in your arsenal is quite important. In the list of your tools, here’re a few must-haves to ensure proper team engagement:
- Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams for better connection
- Slack or Google Slides for improved collaboration
- Google Forms for collecting feedback
- Have a focused meeting agenda
Remote team meetings take effort and time from all the participants. Hence, it makes sense that these resources are best utilized by setting a direction for the meeting in the form of a pre-decided agenda. If you usually go about calling various stakeholders into a meeting room and then create the agenda, the chances are it will take more time, or in other words, waste more time and resources.
Instead, create a detailed plan for items – tasks at hand, next quarter goals, or current roadblocks if any, that you want to cover and push the participants to ask questions or share feedback. Once you have covered all the items in the agenda, you can conclude it for maximum meeting productivity.
2. Set a convenient meeting time
When you are scheduling a remote team meeting, you need to keep a check on the priorities of the team members. For instance, if you want to talk to the customer support team, you need to prioritize their work-specific timings when the clients they deal with are least active. Similarly, if your team is located globally and falls into different time zones, you need to consider the time that is suitable for every participant.
To make things more specific, you can set a meeting duration and ensure that it ends within the given time limits. Another crucial aspect here is to send the meeting notification to the team way before the time when it is scheduled. This will allow the members to manage the work accordingly.
3. Plan to include ice-breakers as a part of the meeting
While promoting remote work culture, you would also agree that it creates both emotional and physical distance between employees. With similar faces joining the video call for remote team meetings, you may not expect them to engage in every side of the meeting right away. Rather, it is your responsibility to break the ice and make them feel engaged in the conversation or agenda of the meeting.
While there are dozens of ideas for ice-breaking activities, your organizational culture may pose certain restrictions. However, you can choose from some of the favorites given below:
- Quiz time on a topic related to the meeting agenda
- Team photo via video platform
- Remote coffee time when everyone on the team enjoys tea or coffee together
4. Set the mood for the meeting first
Your team members’ mood has a significant impact on how they behave and feel while connected remotely via connection platforms. If you are the meeting host, focus on setting the meeting tone and mood to help the joiners gather their energy and be in a positive mood full of creative ideas.
If you feel the team members are stressed about the challenges at hand or the volume of work, ask for solutions upfront and make informed decisions. Let others feel like being true members by making their voices heard. This is how you can keep the spirit alive during the meeting period.
5. Remind the attendees of the meeting goal visually
Has it ever happened to you that the remote team meeting you were a part of went totally off track and for no good reason?
This would be inevitable if the meeting attendees have no direction to lead the conversation. This is why it is important to remind the participants about the meeting objectives and gather their attention visually. This can be done with the help of presentations, whiteboards, and mind maps that will also make the conversations more engaging.
You can even create a slide or page that outlines the flow of the meeting, which can be like this:
- Objective sharing
6. Split roles and allocate time to each team member
For an effective remote team meeting, it is crucial to keep track of multiple things, be it keeping the employees engaged, making notes, or handling the presentation. In some cases, doing it all on your own often becomes impossible. This is where role split helps a lot.
Whenever you hold a meeting, you can assign specific roles to different team members, such as:
- Facilitator who is responsible to guide the attendants toward maintaining the meeting flow
- Notetaker who records key ideas, and results, and then shares minutes of the meeting
- Timekeeper who ensures that every section of the meeting receives adequate time and attention
7. Keep it engaging and better than before
What happens after the to-the-point remote meetings that are not more than 5 minutes long? What about one-sided meetings where only one person is allowed to talk?
When meetings lack engagement, they ultimately become boring. Along with setting the tone and including ice-breakers, you can further improve upon the engagement quotient in the following ways:
- Set the right expectations in terms of team engagement
- Add short activities for team building
- Celebrate the achievements of different team members
- Use quizzes to introduce various attendants to the agenda
- Run opinion polls
The key here is to make the meetings more engaging than the last ones.
8. Record meetings if needed
In meetings that are held for more than an hour, often the attendees realize they are missing out on some finer details. With the availability of the ‘record meetings’ feature in most communication platforms, you can sort out this aspect. After the meeting is over, you can share the recorded meeting URL or video link with every attendee. This way, whoever needs to revisit any section of the meeting can do so at their convenience.
Recorded meeting clips also act as a reliable source of truth about what was discussed in the meeting. This further helps minimize the conflicts that may arise later.
9. Ask attendees for post-meeting contribution
The role of different members attending remote team meetings does not end when the meeting ends. Other than the work that is to be done to achieve different business-specific goals, you must remind the employees about participating in the post-meeting result in different ways. For example, you can ask the marketing team to take polls in order to get a certain website feature developed by the product team.
Asking for their feedback is yet another way to learn from the perspective of your team members.
Prepare for the remote team meetings that are here to stay
The global shift to remote work culture is quite beneficial for employers and hiring managers. If you need assistance in streamlining the hiring process, seek professional advice from experts at Connect Tech & Talent. To submit your hiring requirements or know more about Connect Tech & Talent, click here.