man attending a virtual meeting

Virtual meetings are becoming more and more relevant in times of globalization, new work models and certain other current news topics. But a virtual meeting requires some changes in the way you organize yourself.

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  1. Invite only those who are actively involved

Too large meetings lead to restlessness and reduced concentration. Participants should be able to draw real added value from the meetings and ideally be able to actively participate in them.

Tip: If the content for the meeting is also interesting for others, it can simply be recorded.

  1. Small virtual meetings for specific topics

For project work, especially in larger teams, it is worth distinguishing between strategic and operational meetings. At strategic meetings, a general look can be taken at roadmaps and topics with short updates. If there is an issue somewhere, it can be raised to deal with it in an agile manner.

Meanwhile, concrete problem areas, processes and updates can be exchanged in operational meetings, which only affect the people who are actively working on the respective topics.

  1. Headsets instead of PC microphones

A headset – a relatively up-to-date headphone with microphone is often enough – has an enormous influence on the sound quality in a meeting. PC microphones pick up room noise (e.g. reverb, but also surrounding noise) or typing on the keyboard much more intensely.

  1. Video transmission or profile picture?

A video transmission of all participants is always recommended. However, it can limit the performance of the meeting, as it consumes more bandwidth. It can also be distracting if too much happens on the screen.

Especially for larger meetings, it may be more appropriate to broadcast the presentation/screen or only the person who is speaking.

In small meetings, however, video transmission can make personal contact and communication easier, as body language and facial expressions are also transmitted.

Video transmission is particularly recommended for meetings involving partners and customers.

  1. Moderation ensures a tight process

A clear agenda for the meeting and a moderator help to ensure that discussions do not „get out of hand“ or points are forgotten. A facilitator must be careful to discuss only those topics that are on the agenda. If discussions become too detailed, the facilitator can stop them, with a recommendation for a smaller meeting. In addition, the moderator can maintain meeting etiquette, for example, by limiting interruptions by participants.

  1. Use the mute button

If you are not talking, you should use the mute button to avoid noise. This includes coughing, drinking coffee, clearing your throat or moving around. Of course, you should also remember to switch the microphone on again when you actually have something to say.

  1. Make the protocol available to everyone

Even though everyone is encouraged to take notes, there should always be someone to take minutes. Ideally, this task should change regularly or be set for specific periods of time.

The minutes should record the most important ideas and key issues. Above all, tasks and responsibilities should be documented. After the meeting, the minutes should be published centrally in a timely manner so that all participants can confirm the tasks assigned to them.

Tip: The person who keeps the minutes should feel free to ask specific questions for clarification. Especially responsibilities, tasks, and deadlines should be clear.

  1. Participate individually instead of in a group

If it can be arranged spatially, the virtual meeting will be much more relaxed if all participants log in individually and are separated from each other as far as possible. On the one hand, this makes it easier to assign the speaking persons, and on the other hand, the sound and video quality is better.

  1. Plan breaks during long meetings

While in an „analog“ meeting, it is often not even noticeable when a colleague apologizes briefly to freshen up or get a glass of water, it is much harder in a virtual meeting to do this without disturbing the conversation or missing important points during the absence.

It is therefore all the more important, especially for longer meetings, to set up fixed breaks that all participants can prepare for.

  1. Use screen sharing for more context

When dealing with complex topics, concrete documents or a presentation, the screen of the respective speaker should be split. Agendas or minutes can be displayed transparently for everyone. Especially with visual topics, such as a demo or the design of a website, sharing also helps to collect ideas and comments and there is no restlessness because participants have to pick out the relevant documents individually.

Virtual meetings are only one part of the digital working world. On our provide-20 page we continuously collect best practices, hints and facts, which are especially helpful in times of Covid-19 to make remote work efficient. 

Provide-20 for Digital Work