Ever since COVID-19 overtook the world by storm, there has been an influx in remote jobs. More and more jobs are offering remote positions; there is more awareness that certain job duties can be done at home, rather than at the workplace. Therefore, more people are using online softwares for communication, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Some may find this much more efficient and easier to communicate to whoever you'd like. Others may have trouble getting used to these softwares, or face technical issues that hinder them from communicating to their peers in an effective way. Having meetings online is still a very new concept to many workers. It is important to note that both of these situations can still benefit from the following advice.
- Rules for Participation
Before conducting a meeting online, it is important to establish ground rules with the participants. There are many cases where a person may be unmuted and disrupt the meeting due to background noise, so make sure everyone is muted if they are not speaking. Video cameras should also be on! This makes it so you know who you are talking to, as well as understand facial cues and body language. Just because it is virtual does not mean you should be talking to profile pictures. There is also a hand-raise function in both Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Facilitating these functions can assure less interruptions, as well as more participation. Whereas in an in-person meeting, raising your hand may interrupt an conversation, online meetings have this advantage which should be utilized.
- Assign Roles
Conducting a meeting online is not just verbal, it is also reading. For both Zoom and Microsoft Teams, there is a chat function that is usually utilized when some are unable to speak due to another person speaking or technical difficulties. It is important that the host assigns someone to handle the chats, so they are not focusing on two conversations at a time. Another role that should be assigned is a note-taker. Similar to how it is during an in-person meeting, it is imperative that important points are recorded so they are not forgotten about.
- Be Patient
Technical difficulties is a common problem when conducting a virtual meeting. Participants may be unable to use their camera or mic, or start to buffer due to poor Internet connections. These difficulties can be out of their control, and it should be responded to with understanding, rather than frustration. Additionally, because the field of view is so limited with the videos, it has become much more nuanced when it comes to their body language. When someone is looking away or down, or turns off their video for a moment, it is important to not assume that they are purposely inattentive to the conversation. Many workers join meetings at their home and there are more possibilities to be distracted. These distractions should be accounted for, but there should be understanding when it comes to them. Looking down does not automatically mean they are on their phone, they could be taking notes but you would not be able to see it!
- Staying Focused
Even though distractions that are out of the participant's control should be responded to with an understanding of nuances, the participants should be staying focused and looking at their screen for a majority of the meeting. It is much easier to get distracted at home than at a workplace. Make sure everyone is listening to what is being talked about, pay attention to their facial cues, and ask many questions to keep everyone engaged.
- Keep it Concise
Similar to how it is during effective in-person meetings, information that is presented should be kept concise. Since it is much more easier to get distracted in a virtual meeting, you must implement new and engaging ways to keep your audience's attention. Talking for too long may lose their attention, so make sure that you are presenting your information in a short and direct way. Do not explain things that do not needed to be explained and leave that for the questions that the participants may have.
AndreyPopov. (2020). Cropped Image Of Businessman Using Laptop At Desk stock photo [Photograph]. iStock. https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/cropped-image-of-businessman-using-laptop-at-desk-gm1216652501-354855520
Ferreira, C. (2020, April 6). 11 Tips for More Effective, Less Annoying Remote Meetings. Stanford Magazine; Stanford Alumni Association. https://stanfordmag.org/contents/11-tips-for-more-effective-zoom-remote-meetings