12 tips for effective virtual meetings

With home working here to stay for the foreseeable, virtual meetings have become a standard part of many employees’ lives.

Managing workloads against a backdrop of family members, housemates or curious pets can be tricky anyway, let alone if you’re required to spend much of your day on camera.

Need some pointers? Take a look at our top virtual meeting tips.

1. Write a clear agenda

Creating an agenda is a quick job – write a few bullet points and distribute them ahead of time. (If you’re not the meeting host and the call is over 30 minutes long, ask the organiser whether they can provide an agenda.) Efficiently run virtual meetings help everyone to make the most of the time and take that productive energy into the rest of the day.

2. Stick to your time slot

Determine your meeting length and stick to it, with one person keeping an eye on the agenda items and the clock. Fresh ideas don’t flourish in meetings that drag on way past the scheduled time.

3. Create a calm environment

Not so easy to achieve if you’ve got children or pets vying for camera time, or neighbours building an extension next door. But do try to organise a bit of quiet in your working environment before you join a meeting.

Start by letting other members of your household know you’re about to start a call and when it’s scheduled to end. Asking school age children to make a ‘do not disturb’ sign for the door will introduce the concept of interruption-free periods (worth a try, at least!) and letting any other workers in the house know you need a bit of calm will also help minimise distractions.

4. Be cautious with sensitive info

We tend to speak louder in virtual meetings than we would in person. If you’re working with confidential information, just remember to close windows and doors instead of bellowing the details out into the neighbourhood.

5. Learn the ropes

Familiarise yourself with the features of the conferencing tools you’re using, particularly how to activate and deactivate your microphone and camera. Learn the keyboard shortcuts for these actions so you can instantly mute or cut the camera if you need to.

If key people can’t attend it can be useful to record your meeting, so find out how to do that. To avoid interrupting the flow of a presentation, take advantage of any existing chat features to capture questions throughout the session. Then finish by tackling them in one go at the end.

6. Smile: you’re on camera

Kick off your virtual meetings with a smile and a polite greeting. Remain conscious of your facial expressions throughout – yes, you’re in your home environment, but any grimace you make is visible to everyone!

Remember to stay in shot so other users can see you’re engaged, not moving around or rearranging your desk. And don’t check your phone for personal messages – it’ll be pretty obvious what you’re doing!

7. Be considerate with sound

Remember that your microphone is probably closer to your keyboard than to your mouth. If you’re typing away during your meeting, hit mute to stop the sound of tapping keys interfering with the conversation. If people are having trouble hearing you, try turning off video.

8. Get the right kit

If you’re going to be participating in very frequent video calls, look into getting a decent webcam and headset with a microphone. Make sure your internet is fast enough, taking into account other usage in your household.

9. Share your screen with care

If you’re planning to present documents, close down the windows that are irrelevant to your call before you hit share. It’s a good way to avoid accidentally broadcasting anything confidential. Consider closing down your email too, so you don’t get distracting pop-ups while you’re presenting.

10. Avoid dead air

If you’re asked a tricky question, don’t use precious meeting time to look up the answers while everyone sits and waits. Say you’ll report back later and let the meeting continue with energy and purpose.

11. Dress appropriately

Your home and work identities may have blurred recently, but that doesn’t mean you should lose professional pride. While your immediate team might not care if you’re working in your oldest T-shirt, a senior manager might, and an outside person, new client or interviewee probably will. Strike the right visual tone for the person you’re meeting with, keeping the culture of your workplace in mind.

12. Look after your attendees

If you’re at a face-to-face meeting with socially distanced colleagues as well as virtual attendees, be aware that the people in the room may dominate the conversation. This is because they will be able to read body language, maintain eye contact and feel more connected to the task in hand. Make sure you invite comments and questions from remote attendees who may feel less inclined to contribute.

Interested in what’s out there?

We hope you found our virtual meeting tips useful! If all that home working has got you thinking about your career options, why not browse our current vacancies or call 01225 313130 to speak to an Appoint consultant?