With more and more of us connecting virtually using Zoom, Teams and other online systems, DTW Director Lorna McAteer-Bingham takes a look at some of the simple steps you can take to help make your online meeting a success.
One of the biggest changes to businesses as a result of Covid-19 has been the increase in online meetings. At DTW we have used online meeting software such as Skype, Teams and Zoom for many years to keep in touch with clients who are often spread across the globe. But, with lockdown resulting in a shift to home working we have found these tools have become just as crucial for internal communication.
With more time being spent conducting meetings virtually, we wanted to share our top tips for success.
Think about your environment
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is adapting to work full-time in an environment away from the office. Added to this, in many cases we’re now sharing our workspaces with partners, children and pets – all of which can be an unwanted distraction when taking part in a meeting.
If you’re lucky enough to have a space you can set up a home office in, try to avoid strong sources of natural light behind you and anything that might generate unwanted background noise. If you’re in a particularly dark area you could invest in a simple ring light that attaches to your laptop to give things a boost.
Where sharing your space with other family members, try to plan your day in advance to allow for some peace and quiet around the time of your meeting. Equally, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you might be subject to the odd unexpected interruption. After all, many of us are in the same position. Where sound is a challenge, consider headphones or a headset; the ones that come with many mobile phones have a microphone built in.
Test the technology
There’s nothing worse than joining an online meeting only to spend the first 20 minutes dealing with technical issues, with participants sorting out connectivity, audio or video challenges. Whilst this is sometimes unavoidable, it’s worth planning in some time in advance of a meeting to carry out a test run. This is especially important if you’re using a system for the first time as it may require you to install additional software and restart your computer.
Test out functions like screen sharing, get your documents ready in advance and don’t be the one everyone is watching struggling to get to grips with technology.
Set a clear agenda – and use the technology to help you stick to it
Knowing what you want to achieve from a meeting and setting a clear agenda is key to success – online or otherwise.
Where you are working on a long term project with a client, consider creating a standing agenda for meetings which covers off key points from the project plan. You can assign each section of the agenda to a specified team member to take responsibility for driving forward.
Be very clear in what you are saying
What you’re sharing on screen is as important – if not more so – than what you say. It keeps people focused and provides a record that you and others can go back to.
Working remotely takes away some of the non-verbal cues we all give off in meetings, so be really clear and explicit with people as to what you need them to do.
It comes back to good planning – but the online virtual delivery is a little different.
Follow up with actions
Make sure your meetings result in action. Appointing one of the team to do this at the start is critical. We always circulate a Contact Report after a meeting which captures key decisions, actions and deadlines.
They provide an extremely useful record of progress and prevent important aspects of a job getting sidelined or missed!
And, as with any meeting, getting the fundamentals right is only one part of it. Giving time and space for everyone involved to give their input and listening to their views can be key. It’s also worth bearing in mind that those taking part may have different learning styles and approaches to communicating, so it’s important to reflect on this and adapt your approach accordingly.
Thanks for reading.