10 Tips for Leading Effective Virtual Meetings

business career leadership Mar 20, 2020

Are you needing to stay connected to your team? Online virtual meetings will be our new normal for a while. Interviews have not moved into the online space, so you'll want to make the same powerful impression virtually as you would in person. Also, distributed teams are having to consider how to maintain good working relationships with their colleagues, as well as, how to collaborate effectively in online workshops and have online meetings. 

So, whether you're interviewing or leading a meeting, her are some tips and tools that will help you be both efficient and effective. 

  1. Find a great spot to meet. Carpeted rooms prevent echos on the call which will can be distracting. In addition, try to have a neutral background or a beautiful background with a lovely painting or in front of your bookcase. Also lighting is key, but be sure the light is facing you and not behind you, so people can see you clearly.
  2. Get good tech. First you want to pick the technology you want to use (Zoom, Go-To Meeting, etc.) and then test it out. You want to make sure it's compatible with your computer, you know how to operate it, have good internet connection for it, and if you need to use a free version or paid version.
  3. Audio matters. Audio quality is the key complaint people have about virtual meetings. When you're working from home you have no control over your neighbors decision to mow their grass at 10am or another neighbor's kiddo deciding to practice their cello outside because it's a gorgeous day (I'm speaking from personal experience you may have guessed), which can severely compromise the audio quality of your virtual meeting. To remedy that, I personally prefer a comfy headset that has a great noise cancellation feature. That way you'll not only block out other distracting noise around you, if it's a good quality headset, it will ensure you're heard clearly...even if you're a low-talker.
  4. Close out other windows. It's SUPER easy to get distracted when you're online. There are pop-up notifications, emails, and games that can distract you on the computer, and of course there are distractions around you like the television and your family. So, be sure that you turn off any notifications and all other windows. Just have a notepad, your agenda and pen in front of you and keep you eyes on the camera so everyone can see your lovely face.
  5. Dress the part. Yes you're at home, but not it's not a pajama party. I've had clients tell me that one of the interviewers showed up in a robe on their call. Let me just say, no one wants to see you in your nightgown, so show up dressed and ready. You don't need to wear a suit, but you can put some effort into it. 
  6. Consider time zones. If you need to include people across the country, consider the best time to connect. Be considerate if some of your participants have kids at home during this time. 
  7. Have an agenda and prep for the meeting. Create an agenda ahead of time to include key talking points and the structure of the meeting. Designate someone as the time keeper and let people know who's contributing, what materials they need to bring and share and how much time is designated for each speaker. You want to provide as much structure as possible and set sound ground rules. 
  8. Limit the time and participant list. Really think through who needs to be on the call. Follow Jeff Bezos' Amazon's Two Pizza Rule:  no meeting should be so large that two pizzas can't feed the whole group. You'll also want to keep this in mind when you're considering the length of the meeting. Try to keep it to no more than 1 hour. After that, you'll lose people's attention. 
  9. Don't hold multiple meetings.  Don't  schedule multiple meetings for the purpose of staying connected. You may feel the urge to schedule additional meetings to make up for the loss of the "office drop-in," but over scheduling meetings can actually take a bite in your productivity. It's really disruptive to constantly pop on Zoom numerous times in the day or week to go over mundane topics that could have been handled over email. The desire to connect and build community in the midst of isolation is prevalent right now, but don't cause meeting fatigue by scheduling more than absolutely necessary.
  10. Be respectful. Don't have side conversations with people off camera, don't text, answer, or send emails using your phone. There's often a slight delay in virtual meetings so don't talk over others to ensure everyone hears everyone. Mute your microphone if you're not talking so there's no outside distracting notice. Use the chat function if you don't want to forget your point and ask if it's ok to record the meeting before you do so. 

When your meeting is virtually, you only need to make a few adjustments to have an effective meeting. By preparing properly and participating fully, you're sure to have a successful experience.


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