More and more businesses and individuals today are making use of electronic meeting platforms like Skype for Business to carry out their daily meetings. Now while virtual meetings can be very convenient, for example saving you time and money traveling between in-person meetings, participants attending virtual meetings without the correct discipline can tend to become detracted. Perhaps that personal social network feed that the participant was reading prior to the virtual meeting has drawn their attention away, and when people are distracted, the virtual meeting will most definitely lose focus, taking more time and repetition to reach the meeting goals, which is not an ideal for your overall productivity.
Here are a few tips to keep your virtual meetings on track and within the schedule time allocated.
- Know your Technology – Before your virtual meeting, make sure that your system is setup correctly, check your webcam, speakers and mic that they are operational. Also make sure that you are connected to a stable Wi-Fi or internet connection, don’t be the one that holds up the meeting with frustrating technical issues.
- Stick to the Agenda – Formal agendas are not as popular as what they once where, however, now may be a good time reinstate its use. A good place to start may be by including the topics and goals of the meeting in the body of the meeting/calendar request that you send out via Outlook or perhaps attach a document to the mail or post a link to SharePoint. Do this a day or two before the meeting, this gives everyone enough time to familiarize themselves with the meeting goals and to formulate questions. During the meeting refer back to the agenda to bring focus back to the meeting if you feel that the participants are wondering off. One more thing, make sure you READ THE AGENDA if one is sent to you, you don’t want to be the one that gets blind sided with questions that you are not prepared for, which takes us to the next tip, preparation.
- Being Prepared – If you have received a meeting agenda or not, be sure that at the very least you understand your personal goals that you want to achieve in this virtual meeting, some simple preparation, what ever your preparation style is, helps take pressure off yourself and allows the meeting to flow better. Perhaps if a meeting agenda was sent, scribble down some questions or notes that you would like to ask.
- Screen Sharing – Most modern meeting platforms like Skype for Business gives the participants the ability to share their individual screens or PowerPoint presentations. Use this feature to direct the audience’s attention to what you are doing which helps to keep focus. Don’t be the one holding everyone else up searching through files on your system or scrambling through papers on your desk looking for that visual or statistic that accompanies the meeting. Also another thing to keep in mind when screen sharing, make sure that you close all email and instant messaging programs that shows notifications to avoid any uncomfortable situations.
- Address other participants directly – Virtual meetings can sometime be challenging knowing when to speak, and virtual meetings can range from everyone talking all at once to there being long pauses after someone speaking. To avoid this situation direct questions to other participants by calling out their name and then asking the question, this keeps the conversation flowing nicely, and everyone can be heard.
- Let your personality shine – Because of the lack of body language via virtual meetings, you don’t always know if people are following along. To keep the other participants from loosing focus you need to make sure that your personality shines through, be more personable, keep your energy high, this will help keep the other participants engaged which will allow you to get through the meeting in less time. The highest energy always wins!
Which ever virtual meeting platform you choose you can be more efficient by being prepared and engaging with the other participants clearly and concisely, you will then be sure to reach your meeting goals.
Author: Lyal Saayman
Lyal is the founder and director of Digisync Technology Solutions, he is a technologist and entrepreneur at heart and currently has interests in cloud technologies, software development and really all things ICT.