Telecommuting, videoconferencing and remote meetings are becoming an increasingly important part of our lives, a trend that the health crisis has accelerated considerably.
What is a virtual meeting?
A virtual meeting is simply a meeting that takes place online rather than physically with all participants in the same meeting room.
The goal is to connect team members, business partners, or other stakeholders who are located remotely (sometimes only in different parts of the same building). The key is that they all talk to each other and see each other on screen using virtual meeting software.
Virtual meeting tools include programs you’ve probably heard of such as GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype, but not only.
When to hold a virtual meeting?
Here are some scenarios where it’s beneficial to hold a virtual meeting:
– Team members are remotely located
At Motilde, we are used to working as a team with colleagues based remotely or in different offices. Without the option of virtual meetings, it would be very difficult to communicate effectively with each other. Face-to-face videoconferencing allows for real time and decoding of non-verbal signals; email does not.
– Meet your customers quickly
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to go to a potential client’s office or invite them into your office for a meeting, especially since the COVID-19 crisis. If you need to schedule a spontaneous meeting to answer questions or discuss logistics, a virtual meeting is a quick and cost-effective way to do so.
– Save money on travel expenses
It doesn’t always make fiscal sense to bring a teammate in for a quick meeting or arrange travel just to have a client ask a few questions. Virtual meetings are an effective way to save your company money and reduce your travel expenses.
43% of frequent business travelers said in an Oliver Wyman survey that they plan to significantly reduce their travel, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
– A virtual meeting is the only option
Then there are times when virtual is the only option. By setting up the technology to conduct meetings virtually, you can be prepared for any situation that might prevent in-person meetings. In particular, virtual meetings allow businesses to continue operating in times of crisis.
What are the drawbacks of virtual meetings?
Interaction between participants can be difficult
It is more difficult for all participants to play an active role when the meeting is virtual, especially when the groups are large. In face-to-face meetings, it is possible to talk to each other to some extent, creating a two-way conversation. In virtual meetings, it is difficult to hear if more than one person is speaking. This can lead to a more rigid feel to the interactions.
Visual and audio only
It’s impossible to get the most out of some products by just looking at them on a screen. Depending on your industry, it may be beneficial to touch samples or try a prototype yourself.
The need for structure in virtual meetings can dilute the energy. There will always be one person talking to the whole group and it is difficult to break into smaller groups to discuss topics. There is also less spontaneity, which can mean that you may miss some of the more innovative ideas.
The good news is that you can overcome these drawbacks of virtual meetings. The key is to know how to make virtual meetings more engaging and to equip yourself according to your needs.
How do you run an effective virtual meeting?
Schedule only the meetings you need
Just because it’s easier to schedule multiple meetings throughout the week doesn’t mean you should. Too many meetings is exhausting, sometimes a waste of time and demotivating for everyone involved. Plus, it means reduced productivity.
By scheduling only the meetings you need, participants are more likely to be enthusiastic about attending.
Define the rules prior to the meeting
As with any good meeting, you need to set ground rules for participation and ask everyone to abide by them. Here are some examples of rules to put in place:
– Keep the video active
– Stay silent until you address the group.
– Use raised/lowered hands to manage questions/answers, especially with a large group.
Over time, these norms will be incorporated by everyone and should help make more efficient use of the meeting time.
Choose a co-organizer
If you are holding a meeting with a large group, it is a good idea to choose another person as a co-organizer of the meeting. One person can play the role of technical support and manage tasks such as recording the meeting, highlighting key speakers, placing key information in the chat room to share with the group, and sharing issues discussed in the chat room. The other host can focus on presenting and leading the discussion.
Choose the right virtual meeting tools
There are many things to consider when choosing the right virtual meeting software package. Here are three key considerations to keep in mind when shortlisting tools:
– How many people are in attendance? If there are only a handful of people, you may want to opt for a com bubble still called a Huddle Room, usually equipped with a large screen, a content sharing solution and a BYOD camera. For larger meetings, beyond six/eight people, it will be necessary to upgrade to a larger room format with adapted audiovisual equipment as well as a V-shaped table. When the length of the room exceeds six/seven meters, there is generally a jump in the power of the equipment (optical, auto tracking, auto framing, …)
– What features do you need? Determine precisely what you need: video conferencing of course for a virtual meeting but also content sharing, session recording, live chat, whiteboards, touch screen, etc.
Always prioritize simplicity and standard solutions when choosing your videoconferencing equipment to ensure rapid adoption by your employees.
Do you want to equip yourself with virtual meeting solutions? Contact our experts for a personalized quote.