Conference calls and virtual meetings have never been so vital to the everyday running of most businesses as they are now thanks to the recent pandemic. With countless workers now forced to stay at home, applications like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams have surged in popularity in an effort to maintain a high level of communication without the luxury of working alongside your team.
Some organizations have been using these tools for years already and some have only recently implemented them as a way to keep up with current events. Either way, it is essential that you recognize their importance to the new way of working.
Virtual meetings and conference calls will likely be the primary method that you and your team share information and keep up to date with each other’s goings-on. There are, however, a few important differences between physical and virtual meetings that can affect the preparation and planning.
In face to face meetings, attendees will play off each other in a much more natural and spontaneous way, something that unfortunately does not translate very well to the virtual medium. In order to avoid wasting time with unprofessional behavior, be sure to prepare some ground rules that each member can read before joining the meeting.
Head back to the basics
By this, we mean using an old fashioned agenda to keep things moving forward and to ensure that you cover everything you need to without being distracted or sidetracked. Your agenda can be time-sensitive if you like but the most important thing is to include the following.
- The reason for the meeting
- The topics you want to cover
- What you want to attain by the end of the meeting
It is actually a good idea to include the ground rules we mentioned above on the agenda and to share it with anyone attending the meeting beforehand so they have time to go over it themselves.
Be aware of mental health
Believe it or not, Zoom fatigue is a real issue that is being reported around the world by people who spend hours on end on the application or similar video conferencing software. Back to back conference calls can be tiring and, if possible, should be avoided. Another thing you can do to prevent this fatigue is to limit the length of any meetings to 45 minutes or less. This should be more than enough time to cover your chosen topic without dragging on too long and affecting your workers.
It is important to note, however, that video conference calls don’t always have to be work-related. Coffee breaks and catch-ups between friends and co-workers can be a great way to keep a sense of comradery between your team and can even be relaxing. Encourage your team to chat with each other, either in private messages or virtual meets to stop them from feeling too isolated or alone.
Change things up
In addition to proper preparation, be sure to use the technology that is available to you. Features like virtual backgrounds can help to either maintain a professional appearance or even to add some humor to your meeting depending on what you choose. Bring your home background to the future by using services like Hello Backgrounds to hide your personal space. There are also other features like screen sharing and virtual whiteboards that make it easy to share information and brainstorm ideas, much like in a physical meeting.
Record your meetings
Finally, one of the best things about virtual meetings is the ability to record them. This is a great way to archive meetings but can also be used to keep absent members up to date with little to no loss of information as they simply need to watch the meeting to get back up to speed.