Meetings have long been an essential part of how workers communicate in an organization. They allow workers to come together and discuss a topic in-depth, strategize, and help ensure everyone is aligned on their priorities and goals while working from home.
For remote workers, meetings are especially important. While tools like Gmail, Slack, Jira, and Asana are useful to communicate information about projects, they come with limitations. Running meetings is an essential part of maintaining order and structure on a remote team. But how can you run an effective remote meeting? What should you do to ensure everything runs smoothly?
According to a report by Buffer, 20% of remote workers cite collaboration and communication as their top struggle while telecommuting. With this in mind, it’s clear how important it is to think about what you can do to run a more effective meeting. In this guide, we will share a few top tips you can use to run an efficient and effective meeting in your remote company.
A remote meeting is successful when everyone feels engaged and can contribute to the discussion. This process starts before the meeting even begins. There are a few things you can do to set up your meeting for higher engagement and participation.
Do you really need to schedule a meeting? This is the first question you should ask. A large number of meetings end up being unproductive because there was not a clear intention set for it.
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Before you run a remote meeting, ask yourself whether the problem a meeting is designed to address can be solved without a meeting. Could you use chat or email to communicate on a particular topic, or can you answer the question without a meeting?
If so, don’t schedule a meeting, because unless it is clear that a meeting will be valuable, it will likely not be productive for all involved. Instead of scheduling a meeting, you could also record a loom for team announcements that don't require any input. Make sure to consider time zones when looking for a suitable time for your meeting.
If a meeting is appropriate, take some time to prepare an agenda that outlines what you want to discuss and what action items should be raised.
For every meeting, it’s essential to create a clear meeting agenda that might include the following points:
- Key talking points
- Meeting structure including when and for how long you plan to discuss key talking points
- Team members that will be in attendance and what each team member/team is responsible for bringing to the meeting.
There are a number of tools out there to take a meeting remotely, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, or other programs. With that said, you should spend some time figuring out which tools work best for you and invest in making sure everyone knows how to use them.
Before a meeting starts, consider what you hope to accomplish in the call and what tools you will use. The more time you spend preparing the tools upfront, the less likely you encounter technical issues during the meeting.
Here are a few popular remote working tools from the massive list of remote working tools:
- Skype - A communication tool that’s available for free.
- Zoom - A video conferencing app that offers screen sharing options
- Slack - A free chat tool with user-friendly voice and video calling options.
- Google Hangouts - A video conferencing option for teams using the Google ecosystem.
- Google Docs - Easily collaborate on a document with remote team
- GoToMeeting - A good option for large companies hosting large meetings.
After considering whether a meeting is necessary and you have set up the right tools, you’ll be ready to start running a meeting. Follow these tips to make sure the meeting runs smoothly.
In an office, there are plenty of opportunities for team members to get together and chat. These informal conversations are a crucial part of building strong teams, and they make everyone feel more connected to each other. However, in the case of a remote team, these interactions usually take place over chat—if at all, hence making remote communication a challenge.
You can increase engagement by ensuring that all attendees are introduced and announced at the meeting, including their roles. Before commencing the meeting, give people an opportunity to catch up for a minute or two. Encourage everyone to say “hello,” and ask questions like “so, where are you calling in from or how was your weekend?” to encourage people to be more open and set a good tone for the call.
Once you’ve introduced everyone, set clear expectations, and present an agenda for the call, this will allow everyone to understand what you hope to accomplish in the meeting and ensure everyone stays on track. Finally, ask your team if anyone has any other business they want to raise before the meeting officially starts.
The key to a good remote meeting is for there to be a clear intention set. While an agenda goes a long way to explaining the purpose of a call, you should also make sure that action items are discussed. Establish the next steps, and get your remote team members involved with the process.
Are you looking for feedback on a project? Does a team member need to do something specific? Are you planning a release? If so, make sure these are all recorded. This is especially important because if someone goes away with the wrong idea of their next steps, they can’t walk up to you after the meeting and ask you about action items like they would in an office. So, make sure everyone is on the same page about the next steps during the meeting.
In an office, during a meeting, everyone pays attention and is not involved with their phones. But when you are calling into a meeting remotely, it’s easier to disobey these rules. So, when you’re running a meeting, maintain a code of conduct about speaking in meetings and proper meeting etiquettes which includes:
- Everyone should have an opportunity to speak.
- Phones, all Slack, and email notifications should be turned off.
- Turn on the video when required and is possible.
- Don’t interrupt other people when they’re speaking.
- All technology should be tested before the meeting.
- Read the agenda, and come prepared
- Team members should be in a quiet and uninterrupted place.
After a remote meeting has ended, you can do a few things to make sure that everyone is on the same page and is ready to get to work on what was discussed.
After the meeting, send an email or a Slack message to all attendees with minutes of the meeting reminding them of what was discussed. In addition, follow-ups will ensure that everyone has a record of a meeting, including people who were unable to attend. Documentation is particularly important to ensure that everyone is clear on the action items and implementing them.
The follow up should tell everyone the following key things:
- Deliverables and next steps
- Who’s responsible for following up on what
- When the next check-in will be
In the following hours and days after a call, check in with people in the meeting and ask them about their progress toward their action items. Have they met their goals? If they are struggling, you can offer to lend a hand and seek feedback on improving your communication in the future.
Successfully operating a remote meeting can sound intimidating, but with the help of the outlined steps in this article, you’ll be ready to run a meeting like a pro and work from home like a boss.
Ultimately, successful remote meetings have a clear purpose and make everyone feel involved. By the end of a meeting, people should feel like they were able to contribute and should have clear next steps set for themselves.
If you prepare adequately for a meeting, establish a set of rules, and take proper steps to follow-up after a meeting, you’ll be on your way to running great remote calls where everyone feels empowered, involved, and part of the team!
While remote meetings might seem difficult to manage, they’re not. A little planning is all you need to ensure a successful and productive remote meeting.If you are searching for remote jobs, go over our guide on how to find a remote job? If you're interested in looking for remote work, there's no better place to start than DailyRemote. Plus, it's totally free to sign up. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today. Join like-minded remote working people in our LinkedIn community.