Ultimate Guide To Conducting An Effective Virtual Meeting

As an office manager, it’s part of your core responsibilities to help your team accomplish more of their best work and guide them towards becoming more productive and efficient.


With that, having good time management is essential to your role. It leads to better efficiency and productivity, less time wasted, less stress, and more accomplished tasks with less effort. 


Oftentimes, meetings that are poorly planned with no real agenda or clear set of desired outcomes are the biggest time-wasting culprit. In fact, a study suggests that people spend about 31 hours in unproductive meetings each month. Across the U.S. as a whole, this equates to $37 billion in salaries for hours spent in unnecessary meetings.


For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to make virtual meetings a new normal in our daily work routines. In turn, the desire to overcome the scourge of terrible meetings has become even more challenging on your end.


To help you out, we’ve listed down 6 tips for conducting effective virtual meetings without sabotaging your team’s productivity. Let’s start!


Prepare Ahead Of Time

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Running a virtual meeting isn’t always the easiest task — it takes patience, ideas, and of course, people. While technological advancements and digital tools have certainly made online communication easier, nothing is as effective for getting on the same page with your employees as planning ahead of time.


The first step to running a planning meeting that is both advantageous to your employees and yourself is to do your homework. Nothing is a bigger waste of time and energy than coming to a meeting unprepared. There are other people’s schedules and opinions to consider. 


Apart from preparing the materials needed for the meeting, it’s also essential that you prepare yourself to make sure that everything comes together seamlessly for your meeting.


However, the reality of remote working and running a virtual meeting is that sometimes, attendees will have connection issues or technical problems. Poor audio or video equipment, internet quality, or loud workspaces can all contribute to distractions. 


So it’s best to advise everyone to test the technology ahead of time. Prior to a virtual meeting, all participants should test the technology. And, make sure they are comfortable with the major features.  Everyone on your team should familiarize themselves with different software packages.


Set Clear Objectives

The most productive and effective team meetings have a clear purpose in mind. Without question, every meeting must have a clear agenda and outcomes in mind distributed to your employees — these should be discussed and ideated in advance. 


As an office manager, be sure to identify the purpose of your meeting. Whether it is to have fun and get to know new employees, align your team, address internal issues, or deliver business-critical information. Going into a team meeting with a clear purpose helps ensure you can stay on track and be more successful as a result. 


Giving the specific subject and meeting style to your team ahead of time is a crucial piece of information. Otherwise, your meetings can quickly go off track, get diverted by a random topic, or include people who shouldn’t be attending.


Be Exclusive

An effective virtual meeting happens on the level of your employee engagement. The key to achieving engagement in a virtual meeting is to design a process that is interactive and tailored to them. Thus, not every meeting needs everyone to be present. In fact, limiting the participants for certain meetings can increase their efficacy. 


Creating your agenda in advance forces you to think critically about who you’re inviting. Depending on your team’s agenda and the purpose of your meeting, you may want to have a smaller, focused group in order to achieve your goals. 


If your virtual meeting happens without a well-designed process for a specific set of people, team members who are not essential to be in the meeting will quickly become bored or distracted. So, make sure that the participants in attendance really should be there and that it will be a productive use of their time.

Determine Meeting Duration


In even the most well-constructed virtual meeting, cross-talking or unnecessary conversation flow can be a productivity killer. The best way to address this is to set clear objectives in advance, determine meeting duration, and watch the clock. Statistics show the average length of a meeting to be between 31 to 60 minutes.


When you specifically include how long each topic is up for discussion, it will give you the flexibility to adjust and split topics into separate groups before the meeting begins, instead of trying to navigate this on the fly. 


While an hour-long meeting is a usual time, be strategic with your agenda and keep it as short as possible. It will maximize productivity and will keep everyone engaged because long meetings tend to be tiresome and boring. 


To fully achieve this, allocate blocks of time to specific topics, and adhere to those time blocks as strictly as possible. If someone needs extra information or has extra questions, refer them to written materials or other resources. Doing so will give you the distinct advantage of maximizing your team members’ time. 


Delegate Roles

Businessman in a suit ready for a meeting

As the manager of the team, you don’t have to be running the entire meeting yourself. Delegating roles and defining who is in charge of each task can increase the effectiveness of your virtual meeting.


Understanding what each role does and how they can be most effective, is the first step to finding the right member for each role. Here are some common key meeting roles to know about:


  • Facilitator – The person who manages the meeting process and works with the team before the meeting to create the agenda. During the meeting, they guide the group through the discussion, ensure everyone participates, and keep the discussion productive.
  • Recorder – The person that records key decisions, insights, action items, and other results. They’ll make sure these notes get published afterward, too.
  • Timekeeper – The person who ensures all time limits are respected, including time for discussing specific topics and for ending on schedule.
  • Decision Maker – The person who is responsible for confirming and stating the decision so it can be documented before the meeting ends. This is usually an expert or a leader of the group.


Delegating meeting roles reduces the burden on you by making the whole team jointly responsible for your virtual meeting success. The most effective virtual meeting happens when there’s employee engagement, leadership, and teamwork.


Evaluate Effectiveness

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To make sure the effectiveness of the virtual meeting, always end it with a proper evaluation and a summary of the things discussed. It is always important to assess how the meeting itself went — summarize decisions made, reiterate deadlines, review actions, and make sure that information is clearly delivered.


Usually, an effective virtual meeting should leave everyone with assignments and deliverables to accomplish in the upcoming work days. Note the number of topics discussed and how well the agenda was followed. 


If you find yourself wondering how to evaluate a meeting to improve overall meeting effectiveness, you can ask for feedback directly through written or oral. By collecting, compiling, and communicating the answers received from your team members, you’ll get an accurate picture of how to improve your next meeting.


Lastly, conclude the meeting by briefly summarizing the decisions and outcome and make sure that the purpose of the meeting has been achieved. Always end meetings on time and attempt to end on a positive note. Undoubtedly, this makes an effective virtual meeting.


In summary


At their worst, virtual meetings can frustrate and cause more problems than they solve. As an officer, you can reverse this by making sure that everything comes together seamlessly.


Make sure that everything is prepared ahead of time — from testing tools and online resources to set up clear objectives to follow throughout the meeting. Apart from that, it’s a must to determine the meeting duration and delegate roles to your team members. Doing it empowers your team, builds trust, and assists with professional development. 


Lastly, an effective virtual meeting is usually ended with specific actions and decisions. So make sure to conclude the meeting by summarizing decisions made and reviewing assignments and deadlines. And, asking for valuable feedback that can help everyone improve.


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