The separation of the office from work can offer employees and businesses unprecedented flexibility and freedom in the way they work. For many of us, our work has been trending towards the digital workspace for years. The global coronavirus crisis has only accelerated the trend. Remote work has moved from an option to a necessity for many businesses. This drastic change has presented many organizations with challenges. However, if we embrace digital work, we can create new ways to engage and communicate with our teams.

Conducting an engaging and effective meeting has always been challenging and meeting online is even more difficult. This is a new medium for some organizations, which has left many scrambling to establish new systems and best practices. An effective digital meeting doesn’t have to be difficult and complicated. You can maximize productivity and minimize stress by combining traditional meeting best practices with a few new remote meeting habits.

Know your platform

As the meeting host, you need to understand your platform well enough to teach it to others. Time is precious in a meeting setting. If you can prepare your team in advance and quickly fix common technical issues, you will reduce the amount of time wasted troubleshooting and spend more time on your objectives. Prepare your team by sending them a tutorial on the basics well in advance and offer to help them with any issues that arise. If you don’t have the time or expertise to create your own tutorial, there are dozens of free options for common platforms available online.

Cameras on

We have evolved communicating face to face. It’s only been in the last hundred years or so that this has begun to change. We are built to receive and process a variety of nuanced auditory and visual messages, often subconsciously. We learn a lot through body language and eye contact. When we move away from in-person communication, we can add ambiguity to our message. Increasing the likely hood of miscommunication.

Therefore, it’s important to have all participants use their cameras during a meeting. A person’s face is much more engaging than an image. Having the cameras on allows participants to receive and process facial cues and body language. Having cameras on also encourages attendees to conduct their meetings in a quiet and less distracting space, improving sound quality and increasing engagement.

Guide your meeting

One of the biggest challenges in remote meetings is keeping people engaged. This makes the role of the host more important than ever. As the host, it’s your responsibility to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, your meetings stay on track, and you accomplish your goals.

You can keep participants engaged by providing structure for your meetings. Direct questions to specific people. This reduces awkward silence that are magnified by the medium. It will also reduce the amount of time wasted waiting for people to answer.

Provide a road map for your meeting by creating and distributing an agenda in advance.  If the agenda items require the review of any materials, include them with your agenda. Having a written plan will keep everyone on track and increase productivity.

Make sure everyone knows why they were invited and what their role is. It may seem unnecessary but providing this level of clarity increases engagement and participation.

If your platform has a polling feature, use it to gather feedback on controversial decisions. It will allow more introverted participants a way to express their thoughts.

Start and stop on time

This is a simple concept that can be difficult to execute. Try to keep to your established schedule the best you can. Staying on schedule will encourage participants to focus and use meeting time wisely. Consistently keeping to your schedule will train you and your team to work out technical issues and prepare meetings material in advance. Adhering to your start and stop time also communicates that you value your team and their time.

Key Takeaways

As things change around us, all we can do is embrace the changes and take on the challenges presented to us. As work moves into a more digital space, communication and leadership are more important than ever. Creating structure, clearly communicating expectations, and reducing impediments to communication will help you stay productive while collaborating online. To learn more on how to take on the new world of digital work, check out our tips for working from home article. Stay informed on all the changing legislation around the coronavirus crisis at our Corona-virus newsroom.