Vuepoint is a digital marketing agency working primarily in a virtual environment. Our team members are located around the globe and in different time zones. Because of our unique situation, we’ve had to learn to conduct efficient virtual meetings on a regular basis, both internally and with clients and vendors.
Here are our favorite tips for conducting truly effective virtual meetings:
1. Give your team the right tools to conduct a virtual meeting.
You and your team will need a reliable virtual meeting tool that enables high-quality video and audio. The tool needs to be easily accessible for everyone on the team, as well as those outside the organization if you are conducting meetings with clients or vendors.
Vuepoint utilizes Zoom for our virtual meetings. The platform is intuitive and allows teams and users to customize settings to their preferences. Zoom has an app that can be downloaded to a phone or computer. The account itself can also be linked to an organization’s scheduling tools. For Vuepoint, that meant integrating Zoom with our Google-hosted emails and calendars, as well as our Slack account, to make scheduling meetings fast and easy for all team members.
Speaking of Google, another popular virtual meeting tool is Google Meet. If your team uses G Suite, Google Meet is available as a free tool within the package. But it’s also available for personal use if you have a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Google Photos, etc.). Like Zoom, Google Meet enables teams to conduct high-quality video conferences easily from their phone or computer.
Some other popular tools to look into are:
2. Craft an agenda for every meeting.
This is standard practice at Vuepoint. Our virtual meetings MUST have an agenda, preferably shared with the team beforehand. Agendas are a great rule of thumb for all meetings, but it’s especially helpful for virtual meetings. In virtual meetings, participants are often in different locations, often working in different time zones and with different distractions. (Looking at you loud kids in the background, whining cats and dogs, and sidetracking household chores.)
Agendas keep your virtual meetings organized and on track. Even if the team detours from the main conversation, it’s easy to pull everyone back to the main purpose by referring to the agenda. It also helps teams finish meetings on time and ensure that all important topics are discussed in the allotted time.
3. Set a goal for every meeting.
Goal setting is also standard practice at Vuepoint to make sure we stay focused during virtual meetings. The goal of a meeting should answer the question of why the meeting is happening. (As a side note, it may also help team members recognize when a meeting is unnecessary. If you can’t answer the question of what you intend to get out of a meeting, it probably doesn’t need to happen.)
Setting a goal for each meeting lets everyone know what needs to be accomplished before the meeting ends. For example, the goal of Vuepoint’s bi-weekly strategy meeting is to leave with a written plan of next steps on every campaign. It could be just a few sentences long or a handful of bullet points. This way, our team members don’t leave the meeting with a vague and unwritten plan of action. Everyone knows exactly what the plan is for the next two weeks and their role in making it happen.
4. Don’t overextend the invitation.
Everyone’s time is precious, and meetings are often cited as one of the biggest wastes of time at work. The easy accessibility of virtual meetings may make it tempting to invite as many people as possible—it’s so easy for them to click onto a meeting, and people can even continue to do work in the background, the thinking goes—but this is a massive misjudgment.
Before hitting send on a meeting invitation, make sure it makes sense for everyone included to be in the meeting. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting someone else’s time and making the meeting less productive and inefficient.
5. Encourage participation & keep people engaged during a virtual meeting.
It’s incredibly easy to disengage during a virtual meeting. The combination of distractions, easy access to the internet, the ability to turn off your camera and audio, and so much more, make it especially critical for meeting organizers to keep their team engaged in the conversation.
One way to do this is to share a document that everyone in the meeting can view, access, and/or modify. At Vuepoint, we often share screens so that all meeting members can see documents and spreadsheets updated in real time. You can even take it one step further and utilize a shared document, such as Google Docs or Google Sheets. This helps encourage everyone to make their own updates on the document during the meeting.
It’s also a good idea to remind everyone of the goal before the meeting starts. This way, all participants are on the same page from the get-go.
Some other tips include:
- Allow for a few minutes of small talk before the meeting starts. Socializing is especially important for virtual teams. It may also help team members stay focused later in the meeting.
- For longer meetings, schedule regular breaks. Just as you would an in-person meeting, it’s important to allow team members to take a break every once in a while to use the restroom, grab a snack, or just decompress for a few minutes.
- Make a conscious effort to reach out to quieter team members. Some people don’t feel 100% comfortable in virtual meetings, but their input is still valuable. As a meeting organizer, make sure to ask them for their thoughts before moving on to another topic.
- Use the chat feature when appropriate. Piggy-backing off of the last point, some team members will be more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas via chat. It may be helpful to encourage the use of the chat feature to allow shier team members a method through which to share their ideas.
6. Recap the meeting for reference later.
As with in-person meetings, it’s often helpful to assign someone the task of taking notes. This makes it easier to recap the meeting afterward. The meeting recap should include all of the major talking points and next steps on a project.
Additionally, one of the best things about virtual meetings is the ability to record them. Recording your meeting makes it super helpful for team members who want to look back at certain discussion points and for those team members who could not attend the meeting.
Speaking of virtual meetings…
After more than a year of working virtually, the Vuepoint team has really nailed the virtual meeting. So if you would like to schedule a meeting with us to discuss your digital marketing goals, we’re happy to set up a free consultation with you via Zoom or in-person—whichever you prefer! Give us a call at (210) 858-7295, or submit your request here.