Virtual meetings are becoming increasingly common in the modern work environment as companies continue to look for ways to maximize productivity and efficiency whilst keeping overhead costs low.
This means it’s also important for employees to learn how to maximize their efficiency in virtual meetings to ensure that their time spent in the digital space is used wisely and effectively. In this blog, we will give you 10 tips on how to boost productivity in virtual meetings:
1. Set Clear Expectations and Goals:
Clarifying expectations and goals before a virtual meeting is essential for its success. It helps create an effective structure with clear direction and the right expectations. The goals of a meeting should always be tangible and as specific as possible. They should also outline specific points of discussion and identifying concrete objectives. Those tangible goals and objectives help participants to stay on task, eliminating unproductive conversations and limit distractions due to shift of topics. Additionally, sharing these expectations before the meeting can help to ensure everybody arrives prepared, focused and ready to work productive on what matters most.
2. Establish a Meeting Agenda:
Establish an agenda prior to each virtual meeting and make sure it is shared with all participants well in advance. This will ensure that everyone knows what they need to prepare or contribute to the meeting and can prepare questions and materials that are relevant to the discussion. An agenda also provides a helpful structure for the virtual meeting and allows for more efficient conversations.
Having a structured approach to the meeting allows the participants to follow the conversation with ease and makes sure that important topics won’t be missed. Instead of randomly jumping from one topic to the next, participants can go through each topic in an organized fashion and be sure that nothing is left out.
3. Invite the Right People:
As a meeting organizer, make sure that everyone invited to the meeting is necessary and has something to contribute to the discussion. Inviting too many people can extend the meeting unnecessarily and cause it to drift off track. Plus, having an overcrowded meeting can make it difficult to collaborate and take action.
Ask yourself if the meeting attendees could achieve their goals without the presence of certain individuals. If so, then those individuals don’t need to be invited.
The goal of inviting the right people is to make sure that all meeting participants in the meeting have something productive to contribute and to create a dialogue that is beneficial for the group.
4. Use Conference Calling When Necessary:
If there are multiple people involved in a meeting, consider using conference-calling instead of web conferencing. The advantage of conference-calling is that it can help eliminate distractions and the temptation to multitask. This can be helpful when the conversation is complex and relevant information needs to be conveyed quickly and accurately. Not to mention, having a call without video streaming can also help reduce technical issues.
Moreover, it makes it easier for members to keep to their schedule, as they don't need to worry about complex set-ups and connections. This makes the meeting more efficient, with less time wasted.
5. Use Digital Collaboration Tools to Support Discussions:
Use visualization tools such as whiteboarding, flowcharts and diagramming programs to support discussions in the virtual meeting. This can help to facilitate brainstorming, problem-solving and idea-building. Using such tools can also make the meeting more engaging, as well as provide a platform for real-time collaboration. It also helps to keep visible notes that can be referred to later on.
The use of technology like Miro, Figma or others collaboration tools can make the meeting less monotonous, allowing participants to feel more involved. In addition, consider incorporating virtual reality (VR) technology into your online business meetings can offer a more interactive session that can be entertaining as well as productive.
6. Assign Responsibilities:
Assign specific tasks to particular people and have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what to ensure that the meeting stays focused and on track. Each participant should understand their role and be held accountable for their assigned tasks. Make sure that the right people required to achieve the objectives of the meeting are invited to the meeting.
Additionally, it can be beneficial to assign a timekeeper to ensure that the meeting is progressing at a certain pace. This prevents the meeting from getting too off-topic, and keeps all meeting participants on task. Give the timekeeper the authority to redirect the conversation if it drifts off the set meeting agenda.
7. Keep Everyone Engaged:
Regularly check to ensure that all meeting attendees are still engaged in the discussion and that they feel heard and valued. If necessary, set specific times throughout the meeting where people can ask questions or share their thoughts. Encourage active participation by ensuring that participants understand the meeting agenda and how their unique perspectives will add to the discussion.
Additionally, provide people with the right tools and resources such as documents, audio and visual equipment, or applications in order to enhance the discussion. Lastly, it’s important to encourage diversity of thought to ensure that no one is shy to present their ideas. To help increase engagement, you may want to assign topics of discussion to each individual so that they can share their ideas.
8. Avoid Multitasking:
It can be tempting to multitask during long meetings, but try to avoid this wherever possible, as it can severely slow down productivity. Focus on the task at hand and turn off any distracting apps or other programs. This will help you to stay focused and listen more effectively to what’s being discussed, rather than spending time on other tasks which could distract from the meeting.
Let's be honest, in the end, multitasking doesn't work, and we turn out doing many tasks but none of them efficiently. This includes checking emails or text messages during the meeting, as it can be distracting for the other participants. Keep the conversation focused on the task and be engaged in the meeting. This will help ensure everyone gets the most out of the session, and it's finished in time.
9. Action Items:
Agree on a list of actionable items that need to be completed prior to the next virtual meeting. This will ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be done and will help to keep the productivity levels high.
Action items are a great way to ensure that online meetings are productive and stay on track. Setting measurable action items at the end of a meeting will make sure everyone is clear on what needs to be done, and by when. This is also a great way to break down complicated tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
Before assigning action items, it is important to make sure that everyone agreeing understands each task and has the right skills, resources and ability to complete their responsibilities. It is also important to ensure that the assignment is reasonable, given the amount of time and resources available to the participants.
At the beginning of the next meeting, each action item should be reviewed to ensure that: the tasks were completed, and the goals and objectives of the project have been achieved. It is also a great way to hold each other accountable and ensure that everyone is contributing to the project’s success.
10. Follow Up:
Following up after virtual meetings is essential for maximizing productivity. It is important to ensure that following up activities are included during the meeting and noted down in the minutes to ensure that team members are held accountable. Any tasks or actions that need to be completed should be clearly outlined and instructions should be provided. These instructions should include time estimates and individuals responsible.
As part of the follow-up plan, teams should arrange further meetings or check-ins to ensure that progress has been made and that any issues have been resolved. The team leader should ensure that any actionable items have been completed, and that tasks are being managed effectively. Therefore, regular check-ins should be held to ensure that targets are being met and that feedback is being provided.
By following these 10 rules, you should be able to achieve maximum productivity from all your online meetings. By doing so, you will help your team to be more efficient and successful and boost your own personal productivity levels, in the process.
Further Tips to Boost Meeting Productivity:
Find out how to write meeting minutes here
Find out how to take notes in one to one meetings here
Find the best AI meeting tool that can help you boost your productivity by 10x here