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Written by Aiya Rodjel
Even before the onset of the pandemic, a lot of people have been holding virtual meetings. It was a way for people to convene with whomever around the world. They just need fast internet to connect.
However, online meetings have become the norm nowadays. Since a lot of people are still working from home, people have been turning to the virtual space to meet. This spans from business meetings to yoga classes, family reunions to virtual parties.
Virtual meeting is a daily routine nowadays.
No matter if you’re a student pursuing your education or a remote worker talking with various suppliers or acting as one of the team members, virtual meetings have become a normal part of everyday life. That’s why it’s important you make the most out of it. People, employees and teams from all over the world have been heavily relying on meeting software such as Zoom and Google Chat to maintain productiveness, and keep businesses going.
What needs to be done for a successful virtual meeting?
Hence, it’s a must for everyone to embrace tools of technology to remain relevant and productive in these COVID times. For organizations, team building is now online.
The popularity of video conference calls is expected to continue even after the pandemic is over. This is because people and firms have realized how useful and practical they are. No matter the time zones, you can confer with people online through virtual meetings.
From the impact of the pandemic to online meeting etiquette, team building games to boosting virtual meeting productivity to battle Zoom fatigue, this guide will help you conduct successful virtual meetings. It will help motivate you to put your best foot forward even in the online space.
Zoom through the pandemic
Thanks to tools of technology such as instant messaging and video conferences, people have remained productive while social distancing. Students have been able to continue their studies. And businesses have continued operations even if their employees are not physically present. Truly, remote workers and employees have been able to liaise with one another through platforms and tools. These include Google Workplace, Slack and Microsoft Teams, etc.
Is virtual meeting an advantage?
Online meetings have a lot of advantages. People spend less on travel costs and can free up more time by hosting virtual meetings. It’s more accessible than face to face meetings as well.
Participants can maximize their productivity levels as it’s easier to control the duration of online meetings. Everything’s done online so it’s easy to send calendar invitations to all parties involved.
Plus, people can record the meetings as well. No matter where you are in the world, you can convene with people as long as you have a stable connection and a functional mobile device.
What is this solution’s statistics?
People have been going to virtual meetings for a long time, but the pandemic has been a total gamechanger. How big is the impact of the pandemic on online meetings, exactly?
According to the Economist, the daily number of Zoom participants has skyrocketed. From 10 million in December 2019, more than 300 million people around the world have been using Zoom. The pandemic has basically made the video conference company a household name.
Per Zoom boss Eric Yuan, the company expects this growth to continue, and people have embraced the platform. By the looks of things, Zoom meetings are here to stay. It has paved the way for people to connect at the safety and comfort of their homes.
That’s why anywhere you are, it’s important for people to liven up meetings, no matter the agenda. It’s important for each person to have an avenue to chit chat with another person, to lighten the mood.
Team building games and ice breakers for online camaraderie
Maintaining employees and teams’ morale amid the pandemic can be challenging, especially when your team members don’t really know each other. That’s why it’s important for groups to boost team spirit. While you can’t go out of town to host fun team building activities, you can still bond over video calls. You can employ team building games digitally. While you can do the same old individual introductions, here are some ideas to liven things up:
Kahoot quiz nights.
Through the game-based platform, Kahoot, you can play learning games or trivia games with your employees or the team. Initially, you just need to decide on a theme that would excite all these hard workers. Kahoot helps you calculate everyone’s score, and ranks the players as well. This will motivate your team to show their competitive side, and do their best to win the game. Of course, this will liven up your virtual meeting.
Escape room virtual ice breaker.
If your team members aren’t familiar with one another, you can get them acquainted with one another. This is by making them work together on a murder mystery. One fun way to do so is through an escape room exercise.
This ice breaker is one of the effective tools that will make participants use their collective brain power. These workers will solve puzzles, and figure out how to complete the mission. Indeed, it’s a fun way to make the team work with people they don’t usually interact with. And this will result in smooth video conferences in the future.
One of the fun tools to get to know each other and one’s self is by taking personality tests. Even if they are remote workers recently, everyone get to learn more about their colleagues. At the same time, you learn how to improve yourself.
This is a dynamic way to find out information on your strengths. Also, each team member can work on solutions or improvements of their weaknesses. Similarly, it’s a nice ice breaker as you’ll have to explain the results of the test. You discover more about yourself and someone else in your work place this way.
Preparing yourself for online meetings
Being in front of a camera can make people self-conscious. Hence, it’s vital for you to prepare for your online meetings well. By following these tips, you’ll be more confident to carry yourself in a virtual meeting. You’ll be better at public speaking as well.
Remember, how others perceive you is partly a product of how you project yourself to them.
Read the agenda.
This may sound very basic, but it can save you a lot of trouble. Thus, you must do your work of knowing the agenda. If the meeting requires you to have your camera on, you’d know if you have to find a place with a nice background.
You can prepare all the materials you need as well. You’ll know what data to access. And you won’t have any problem on screen sharing, shall you be required to do so.
Dress up for the event.
Even if you’re just at home, you should make the effort to dress up for your meeting. No one wants to get caught off guard. Wearing the right outfit will boost your confidence level. It can be as simple as a dressy shirt or a blazer.
This is also indicative that you are a one of the responsible attendees and diligent part of the workforce. And you also show that you are abiding with the proper company culture even if you are one of the remote workers.
Conduct a technical test.
Just like face to face meetings, video conferencing sometimes faces glitches. There is no perfect meeting software. Hence, you must do a test before you start video conferencing.
Before you enter the online meeting room, do the check ins of your equipment. Is your computer microphone audio working? Is your computer audio working? Do you have other audio options? And if possible, check the audio of your phone as well, shall you need to migrate in time.
Check if your camera is functioning (if it’s a video on call) and test your speaker. This will save you from a lot of trouble once the call does start.
Ready options or solutions
You should also have an idea of the solutions should a technical problem occur. Do not forget your account details, such as username and password. You can store that information on your phone for easy retrieval.
Familiarization with the technology
If the video conferencing platform is an unfamiliar one, you must read information about the tool or software to know possible solutions you’ll need in the future. You might also try a test video chat with a colleague prior the actual business meeting.
Practice for your presentation.
If you’re presenting a report or if you have a speaking slot in the online call, it’s best you practice beforehand. You need to make sure you get your message across well. Certainly, you can practice in front of the mirror or to other people in your place.
You also have to ensure that you have minimal open apps. And ensure to hide screen notifications so it will not distract everyone once you are screen sharing.
If the meeting is one of those training sessions and you are the facilitator, find ways to keep lively communication. You can also practice employing collaboration techniques, like putting attendees on a group. Everyone can then produce wonderful group products after the meeting. Plus, you’ll succeed as a facilitator by opening opportunities for harmonious relationships within teams.
To ensure your online meeting isn’t interrupted, make sure to remove distractions. Unlike a focused face to face meeting, there are a lot of outside factors during virtual ones. This could mean telling your family or housemates you’re in a meeting so they can keep it down. You can put your pet in another room as well. Lock the room if you have to.
Making virtual meetings productive
Online meetings can take up a lot of time for participants. You and your team probably have a lot on your plates though. That’s why it’s important to make them short and productive. Here are some ways to maximize your online meetings for remote workers:
Make sure the technology is working.
It might be the case that not all needed attendees to a virtual meeting are well-versed with the chosen meeting app. Thus, as part of you firm’s collaboration, the facilitator of the meeting needs to ensure that all attendees will be able to navigate such chosen meeting app.
Have an RSVP.
Events and meetings won’t go anywhere if required attendees are not present. Hence, it is a must to ask if participants will be able to attend such meeting.
Have a well-defined agenda.
Before you start an online meeting, you should establish its purpose. You should have an itemized list with a list of priorities. This will help you determine if certain people should participate in the meeting. It will also help participants prepare for the online meeting as well.
Appoint a moderator.
A moderator helps the meeting stay on track. With the help of an assigned moderator, you can keep everyone focused. It’s easy to track who’s speaking, and what should be on the agenda through this as well.
Set a time limit.
You can boost productivity tremendously by putting a time cap on your meetings. This will help people stay focused on the matters at hand. This way, you won’t waste your time on unimportant things.
Open rooms for collaboration.
Each business produces awesome products and outputs once everyone is involved. And as mentioned, this is through open communication and group collaboration. Once everyone are in harmonious relationships with one another, they can easily work together toward the end goal of the business.
Conclude with actionable items.
A lot of meetings end on vague notes. That’s why it’s vital you cap off the meeting with action items. You should assign deadlines and people in charge of these action items to ensure they’re accomplished on time.
Share meeting notes.
While you can share the recording of the video call with the team, it’s best to share meeting notes as well. This way, you can ensure everyone is on the same page. It helps summarize the meeting as well.
This is a way for the team to ensure all items on the agenda were discussed. Plus, it shows that there’s a game plan on how to proceed with things moving forward.
Battling Zoom fatigue
With all the online meetings on your plate, it can be quite draining. That’s why it’s essential for every remote worker to battle online meeting fatigue or Zoom fatigue. Consequently, here are some tips to help you bounce back to your most productive self:
You probably have a lot of things to do, so it’s tempting to multitask while you’re in an online meeting. As per Stanford psychologists, multitasking affects people’s performance. It can dampen your memory as well.
Hence, it’s important you focus on the task at hand. It’s better to do one thing well than try to juggle multiple things, and fail tremendously.
Take a break.
Truly, it can be exhausting to have to attend back-to-back virtual meetings. You will feel demotivated and trapped in front of your screen. That’s why it’s important for you to take breaks. If possible, decline meeting invitations so you can take time away from your computer screen. Having a short breather will refresh you to go back to work with a better disposition.
Keep meetings short.
There is truth to the joke ‘this meeting could have been an email.’ You help yourself and others in a huge way by being straight to the point. Talk about salient points only during the online meet.
Replace video calls with other forms of communication.
From instant messaging to sending video recordings, you should consider other forms of communication as well. This is especially useful when you and other participants can’t find a common time of availability.
Schedule ‘screen free’ time.
Aside from taking breaks and carefully scheduling your video calls, you should consider scheduling ‘screen free’ time. This is a period wherein you can focus on work tasks that don’t require using a computer or mobile device.
The internet connection impact
For you to access video conference apps and meeting software, you need to have fast and reliable internet. After all, video calls can be interrupted by lagging connection. It can be frustrating and counterproductive to have to endure slow internet or intermittent connection.
Of course, it requires a stable internet to go on long video calls with colleagues and other people around the world. Hence, investing in fiber internet that you can rely on has become a need in households everywhere.
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