Nothing beats the personal touch but sometimes, meeting remotely is the only way. In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies worldwide have switched to remote meetings to keep their employees safe.
Meeting in the virtual space, however, comes with certain challenges.
Behind a laptop, it’s easy for your employees to zone out and work on other tasks instead. Or, worse, feel disengaged due to the meeting leaders’ monologues and a lack of space for interaction.
We were no strangers to all of these. Our team worked on fixing these issues and came up with a list of tactics that work for us.
We hope that they will work for you too. Stay safe.
Before the remote meeting
1. Pick a reliable video conferencing tool
A quality technical setup is everything. Use a fail-safe video conferencing tool such as Zoom, Hangouts or Skype. At Slido, we use Zoom, which has always worked flawlessly for us.
2. Simplify your slides
If you use screen sharing to show slides to the rest of the team, make the slides as simple as possible. Attending a meeting online demands even more attention than an in-person meeting. Avoid content-heavy presentation slides or your online colleagues may easily tune out.
3. Rotate the times of your meetings
If your team is scattered around the world, rotate the times of your meetings to accommodate people in different time zones.
4. Appoint a meeting facilitator
Appoint a facilitator who will drive conversations among the attendees, moderate discussions and invite people to contribute. In the case of hybrid meetings, have someone from the remote team facilitate the discussion among the people who are online.
5. Collect questions in advance
Start collecting questions via Slido a couple of days before the meeting starts. This will allow you to crowdsource topics your colleagues want to talk about and design a more relevant agenda. You can also gather your teammates’ questions directly from your Slack channel with our Slido x Slack integration.
6. Gather inputs from those who cannot join
Collect ideas from your teammates who are unable to join the meeting so you can take their inputs into account when addressing a certain issue or raise a point on their behalf.
Also, encourage them to post their questions in advance (see the previous point). This will allow you to incorporate their points into the discussion and make them feel included as they watch the recording later.
7. Join the meeting five minutes early
Regardless of whether you’re running the meeting or only attending, don’t waste valuable meeting time troubleshooting or fixing microphone or video issues.
During the remote meeting
8. Start with a quick tech check
First, make sure everybody can see and hear each of the others properly. For instance, at Slido, we begin every remote meeting with a quick thumbs up check and only then proceed to the main content.
9. Encourage people to turn on their cameras
As your colleagues join the meeting, prompt them to turn on their cameras. Of course, it’s absolutely fine if someone prefers to attend without his or her video turned on, but a remote meeting is made much more personal if people can see each other on the screen.
10. Remind people to mute/unmute themselves
To avoid any background noise, advise people to keep their microphones turned off when they’re not talking. However, don’t forget to make them feel free to unmute themselves whenever they feel like contributing to the discussion.
11. Welcome everyone and catch up
Once you’re all set, start with welcoming all your colleagues who’ve joined. If possible, say Hi to each one individually and address him or her by name. In smaller and medium-sized groups, it’s good to start with some quick small talk or a catch-up to lighten the mood.
12. Run an icebreaker poll
In medium-sized or larger groups where it’s difficult to catch up with everybody individually, run a fun warm-up poll and compel your teammates to participate.
For example, you can try a rating poll asking your colleagues “How would you rate the past week?” or a fun word cloud such as “If you were to describe the past week in one word, what would it be?”
13. Outline the agenda
As you move on to the content of the meeting, dedicate the first minute or two to outlining what the meeting will be about and setting the meeting objectives.
14. Share the screen only if necessary
It’s good practice if the speaker or speakers screen-share their slides so that everybody can follow what the discussion is about. But don’t share your screen unless you really need to. It’s better to let your online attendees see you and each other.
15. Minimize presentation time, maximize discussion time
Encourage human interactions during your remote meetings to make up for the lack of personal touch. Modify the agenda of your meetings a little and build them around discussions rather than one-way content broadcasting.
16. Avoid side conversations
It’s not uncommon in any type of meeting for a couple of people to lose themselves in a side conversation while the rest of the people who are not involved feel left out.
Avoid this by appointing a meeting leader or facilitator who will keep an eye on the meeting agenda and intervene whenever the meeting stops being relevant for everybody.
17. Use live polling to make a decision
With in-person meetings, it’s easy to run a quick show of hands to make a decision or ask people to nod their heads. In an online environment, it’s difficult to find out what they think. You can use live polling to take the pulse check during your remote meetings. Instead of a show of hands, run a quick multiple choice poll to give your attendees a chance to express their opinions.
18. Give your remote colleagues a voice
With numerous people online, it is often hard for attendees to get the time to speak up. Invite people who have been silent for a while to comment on the current topic or share their ideas. If you’re using Zoom, the platform allows the meeting attendees to “raise a hand,” which helps others notice that they want to say something.
19. Crowdsource questions during your remote meeting
Another way to give your remote teammates a voice is to use a Q&A app that enables your online colleagues to post their questions at any time during the meeting. It is then in the hands of the meeting facilitator to ensure that all questions are addressed or that they will be touched upon during the Q&A time.
20. Space out polls to re-engage your attendees
Staying alert during an online meeting is quite a challenge in itself, let alone if the meeting lasts for an hour or more. That’s why it’s good practice to break the meeting into smaller, more digestible chunks and re-engage your attendees in between.
Live polls are great for winning back your attendees’ attention and getting them to participate actively in the discussion.
21. Make hybrid meetings remote-friendly
If you’re running hybrid meetings where some people are online while others are gathered in a room, always adjust the meeting activities to accommodate your remote audience.
22. Wrap up your meeting with clear next steps
Appoint someone who will take notes during the meeting and summarize the key points and meeting outputs. You can share these in writing after the meeting ends with those who attended as well as those who couldn’t join.
23. Record your meeting
Don’t forget to record your remote meeting for those who were unable to join live or for your attendees to replay if they’ve missed something.
After the remote meeting
24. Run a feedback survey
Collecting your colleagues’ feedback after every remote meeting is a great way to learn what worked, what didn’t, and thus improve your remote workers’ experience. You can create a feedback survey in Slido easily and ask your remote colleagues to fill it out before they sign off.
25. Follow up and send the recording
After the meeting, send a follow-up email with a thank you note to everyone who attended; include the relevant materials, such as the link to the meeting recording, meeting outputs, tangible next steps, etc.
26. Turn your meeting recording into a podcast
Since expecting people to watch a full video recording of the meeting is a bit far-fetched, send your colleagues an audio version of the recording so they can listen to the meeting as a podcast. A podcast version is also much more practical – your colleagues can listen to it on the go.
We hope you found these tips useful. See how Slido can help you make your remote meetings more engaging and productive.