Remote team meetings set the tone and standard for how team members work and cooperate. These meetings can be helpful, informative, and increase employee engagement. Or they can fall flat and be considered to be a waste of time. Negative associations with remote team meetings can reduce employee engagement. Reduced employee engagement leads to reduced productivity. Productivity affects the bottom line of a business. So how do you properly run a remote team meeting to ensure that it is helpful and engaging for attendees?
Pulling off a successful remote team meeting need not be an overwhelming undertaking. The simplest way to facilitate a remote team meeting is to divide it into four phases. Planning, conducting, following up, and evaluating make up the four phases of a properly run remote team meeting.
- Planning a meeting consists of all the activities that a meeting facilitator and attendees have to complete before conducting a meeting. This is the foundation of a good meeting. Planning is the most time-consuming phase of a meeting. It is almost impossible to conduct a fruitful meeting without proper planning.
- Conducting the meeting is the process of facilitating/hosting the actual meeting. This is the point at which you execute the plan of the meeting.
- Following up on a meeting involves providing team members with the resources they need to meet post-meeting goals.
- Evaluating a meeting involves configuring how to improve future meetings. Let us discuss the tips on how to properly run a remote team meeting concerning each of the four meeting phases.
Planning The Meeting
1) Choose The Right Meeting Medium
First of all, decide if you even need to hold a meeting. Sometimes a simple text, email, or pre-recorded presentation can negate the need for a live meeting. If you must hold a meeting, then choose the best medium for the meeting. Check to see that all attendees have access to the medium you will be using to conduct the meeting. Usually, tools that have both audio and visual options like Zoom are good options. Sometimes attendees of audio-only meetings might want to share visual information. So having both audio and visual options are the best option. Ensure that there are dial-in options for attendees. That will ensure against dropped internet connections during meetings.
2) Check For Scheduling Conflicts
Try to accommodate the schedules of the majority, if not all of the team members. Use a time zone meeting planner to ensure a favorable time for employees from varying time zones. Try to schedule meetings during usual waking hours for all attendees. It is not easy for attendees to be awake, engaged, and focused when it is midnight in their time zone.
3) Set Meeting Etiquette
Set up meeting etiquette guidelines. Send etiquette guidelines with every meeting reminder so that attendees can familiarise themselves with how they are expected to behave during the meeting. Do not forget to remind attendees of the most basic rules. It is a must to remind them to arrive early, not hog time or interrupts others. It is astonishing to see how people forget the most basic rules if they are not given fresh reminders.
4) Send Out Meeting Notice & Agenda
It is ideal for sending out the meeting notice and agenda days ahead of time. That will give attendees enough time to prepare for the meeting. Sending out meeting notices less than a day ahead of time can affect attendance. Poor attendance can be due to scheduling conflicts or team members not being aware of the upcoming meeting.
5) Ensure Attendee Preparation
Attendees, as well as the meeting facilitator, must prepare for the meeting ahead of time. Send out all relevant reading, study, and presentation materials ahead of time so that attendees have time to prepare for the meeting. A meeting is not the time to introduce topics. Attendees must be ready to brainstorm, float ideas, and propose solutions. Remind attendees that they have to prepare for the meetings ahead of time. When attendees have prepared for the meeting, they will engage more and feel more confident to participate.
6) Budget Time For Chit Chat & Breaks
A properly run remote team meeting is not only designed to discuss the meeting agenda. It also helps to increase employee engagement, productivity, and motivation. It will build familiarity/trust between attendees. Attendees will feel less isolated and more connected to their remote teammates. When there is time built into the meeting for informal chats and breaks, the attendees have the opportunity to connect with others. Being able to talk about anything during breaks has the positive effect of water-cooler talks between team members.
7) Test The Tech Ahead of Time
Test all technology and tools required for the meeting ahead of time. Learn about the shortcomings of the technology and tools to be used. Prepare for possible issues or challenges ahead of time. Preparing for potential issues will ensure that a meeting does not get canceled at the last minute. It is even worse when the meeting facilitator cannot launch the meeting at all or launches the meeting so late that everyone’s time gets wasted.
8) Send Out Meeting Reminders
Send out meeting reminders daily in a staggered pattern. Send reminders via multiple channels if possible. Staggering reminders and using multiple channels to send meeting reminders will ensure that all employees know that they are scheduled to attend a meeting.
9) Dress With Dignity
Always be fully dressed when attending a remote team meeting. Even if the meeting is audio-only or you think your webcam/video is off. Do not embarrass yourself or risk losing your job because of accidental indecent exposure. It will not hurt to tell everyone to dress with dignity in the meeting reminder.
Conducting The Meeting
10) Check-In Early
Check into the meeting well ahead of time. This will give you a chance to check that all meeting tools and technology are working and ready to be used for the meeting. Check-in attendees as soon as you can. If you have time, then begin introductions or just chat with each other.
11) Record Meeting
The first thing to do at the beginning of a meeting is to record it. Recording a remote team meeting is an official record of discussions and tasks assigned to employees during the meeting. Recorded meetings can also help those who were absent to catch up with what they missed. Frequently attendees refer back to recorded meetings to clarify doubts. Attendees also use recorded meetings to write down notes that they were not able to during the gathering.
12) Review Etiquette and Tools
Review all meeting etiquette guidelines at the beginning of the meeting. Inform attendees about all the tools that they can use during the meeting. Attendees need to be aware of the appropriate way to signal when they have questions or concerns.
13) Assign Roles
Assign roles such as facilitator, timekeeper, note-taker, and moderator to attendees. Try to involve everyone in some type of role if possible. If this is a recurring meeting, then ensure that different attendees are assigned to each role during a meeting. For long meetings, several attendees can perform the same roles in turns.
14) Start With An Icebreaker
Start the actual meeting with an icebreaker. If this is the first time everyone is meeting remotely, have everyone introduce themselves and volunteer something funny or lighthearted about themselves. Or have attendees talk about what they aim to achieve from the meeting. If there are new employees at the meeting, then have everyone introduce themselves and make the new employees feel welcome. Ice breakers can come in the form of questions, games, or other activities.
15) Focus On The Agenda
Focus on the agenda of the meeting. Avoid the distraction of tangential topics. There will always be distractions that will take the meeting off-topic. Always redirect the conversation back to the topic at hand. Losing focus during the meeting can distract or disengage attendees. Attendees will feel that your meetings are a waste of their time. They will not be very engaged in any future meetings that you hold. They will have side activities ready to distract them because they know that you are going off-topic sooner or later.
16) Engage Through Participation
Besides engaging workers with introductory icebreakers and games, include engaging activities at critical junctions of the meeting. Give a short quiz at the end of each topic discussed during the meeting. Set up polls to have everyone answer questions in real-time. Discuss poll results right away so that employees know where they stand regarding knowledge and understanding of a topic.
Maybe have a question and answer session at the end of each topic of discussion. Or just have one dedicated question and answer session at the end of the meeting. This will help to minimize interruptions during meetings. Yet, it will ensure that those who want to speak will have a chance to talk.
17) End on Time or Early
One of the reasons to stay focused on the meeting agenda is to finish the meeting on time. Attendees might be scheduled for other meetings or engagements right after the current meeting. Therefore, ending meetings on time will demonstrate that you respect the value of other people’s time. If you realize that a meeting will end quicker than expected, then close the conference early. Do not drag the meeting or slow it down just to fill in time.
Following Up After Meeting
18) Gather Information
Gather information that will help attendees to supplement their understanding of the meeting that just concluded. Gathering information can be as simple as noting down links to websites or files to send to them or compiling thorough answers to questions raised during the meeting into a document.
19) Send Recording & Relevant Information
Send a recording of the meeting to all attendees. Attach all supplementary information that will help employees to digest the contents of the meeting further. Do not forget to send the recording to those employees who could not attend the meeting but need to be aware of the meeting. Sending all necessary information to those who were absent ensures that there is a record of you sharing information with everyone equally. Of course, only send the information out to those who need them. Do not inundate anyone with unnecessary information.
Evaluating The Meeting
20) What Went Right or Wrong
Examine what went right and what went wrong during the meeting. Ask for meeting feedback from all attendees. You may or may not agree with the feedback. What might seem favorable from a facilitator’s perspective might not seem desirable from the perspective of attendees. The most important thing is to gather, analyze and share feedback.
21) Future Improvements
Try to improve the efficiency of future meetings after gathering and analyzing feedback from prior meetings. Experiment with different meeting mediums, various meeting lengths, switching up employee engagement activities, etc.
22) Develop Blueprint
After experimenting with various factors that can affect a remote team meeting quality, select a medium, meeting lengths, and activities that seem to work time after time. Developing a blueprint will help you properly run a remote team meeting. Setting up a blueprint or guidelines for planning/facilitating effective meetings can come in handy when someone else has to take over these duties during your absence. Get assistance with productivity tools and trackers. Get help with building tools that will help you to track employee meeting attendance.