How to Make the Most Out of Remote Meetings

How to Make the Most Out of Remote Meetings: If you’re among them, try freshening up your online meetups with the following techniques.

Has Zoom fatigue hit its zenith? Or is it going to continue affecting the purpose, power, and productivity of online gatherings? Time will tell. Meanwhile, more and more people dread receiving Zoom invitations in their in-boxes.

According to early 2021 global research, 49% of professionals surveyed admitted to being done with web-based meetings. In other words, you can anticipate that about half of the people in your upcoming remote session will tune out.

Here’s the problem, though: You can’t turn back the clock. Many employees say they hope telecommuting will become the status quo. And when your team is scattered geographically, you have little recourse than to set up Zoom or Teams events.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make changes in the way you handle your remote meetings, though. You can and should. To be sure, many leaders haven’t altered their typical virtual meeting arrangements since the pandemic began. If you’re among them, try freshening up your online meetups with the following techniques.

1. Make better use of your agendas.

First of all, kudos to you if you’re using an agenda for your Zoom meetings at all. Most managers go into meetings without a plan. And those who write up agendas frequently forget to share them. (Surprise! We have 22 agenda items to get through!) That’s a recipe for a disastrous, interminably long get-together that leaves everyone feeling unfocused and exhausted.

Instead, develop agendas that make sense. For instance, create an agenda that isn’t too long and doesn’t veer off-topic. Also, make sure it shows attendees what to expect and how they can participate. Want to earn agenda-making bonus points? Find a software platform that allows you to integrate your agenda with Slack, Google Calendar, or your project management system. That way, your Zoom agenda will automatically become an active and archived part of your team’s workflow.

Not sure what a modern agenda should look like, especially one that’s linked up with your centralized systems? Check out some free meeting agenda templates. The templates can serve as robust outlines for online meetings. Additionally, they’ll give you ideas when it comes to making better use out of the agenda action items.

2. Keep your meetings on a leash.

Have you ever sat in an endless meeting? It’s bad enough in person. Online, it can be worse. Staring at a screen can be tough on the eyes. And hearing a colleague’s audio and video jump around due to a poor Internet connection? It’s hardly conducive to a productive event.

At the very beginning of your Zoom or Teams meetup, establish a time goal post. Maybe it’s an hour—or, even more exciting, a half-hour. Tell everyone that you’re going to get through as much as you can in your agenda during the timeframe. However, if you hit the goalpost before you run out of items, you’ll move those items to your next session.

Be forewarned: This type of time management isn’t as intuitive as you might think. It requires you to stay on your toes and not allow anyone to hijack the meeting. Nevertheless, your efforts will pay off big-time as attendees realize you’re going to hold everyone to the same standard. Yes, it can be hard to stop a meeting short. It’s better than letting it take on a life of its own, though.

3. Do a little weeding with your meeting agendas.

One of the biggest Zoom meeting faux pas is throwing everything into an agenda. (A close second is allowing attendees to bring up extraneous topics.) Before sending your agenda to meeting participants, put on your figurative gardener’s gloves. Why? You’re going to do some weeding and pruning.

Ask yourself a few questions about each subject you’re planning to cover: Is this subject something everyone needs to hear about? Should this subject be discussed in a separate meeting with fewer people? Is this subject something that could be handled through shared documents or an email chain?

By nature, most meetings have a lot of waste in them. By trimming yours, you’ll find that your agenda looks better and moves along more fluidly. Over time, you’ll find it easier to figure out what belongs in your Zoom—and, more importantly, what doesn’t.

4. Try not to schedule back-to-back web meetings

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t put your team through consecutive Zoom or Teams gatherings. You’ll end up with lackluster results. Most people need to get away from their devices for a while after staring at them extensively. Jumping back into a web meeting can lead to diminishing returns, lowered creativity, and mental checkouts.

What’s the right rhythm for your Zooms? The best way to find out is to survey your group. Make it clear that you’re not going to get rid of virtual meetings. At the same time, ask your crew’s opinion on how much is too much. That way, everyone will have a voice in the matter.

Of course, sometimes you may need to set up a litany of online sessions. In those circumstances, bake some 5-minute or 10-minute breaks into the agenda. This gives everyone a chance to stretch or grab a sizzling hot cup of just-brewed coffee.

5. Add a touch of levity and casualness to your Zoom events.

When you host a meeting in the office, you probably start with a little banter. You and your attendees may also plug in some humor here and there. On Zoom, it’s harder to enjoy these kinds of impromptu moments. Try.

For example, why not have a ready-made sign to hold up that says, “You’re on mute.” Or send your team members coffee mugs with the catchphrase. That way, people don’t sound stale when they make this common statement.

Are some meetings too serious for laughter? Absolutely. Nonetheless, the vast majority could benefit from an infusion of smiles and cheerfulness. Why else would everyone get a kick out of a cat or kid walking suddenly into the frame? Show a little humanity during Zooms and you’ll foster a sense of empathy and camaraderie.

In a world of telecommuting and hybrid work arrangements, remote meetings are here to stay. Rather than treating them like their in-office cousins, though, look at your virtual events as something unique. That way, you can come up with compelling ways to make them more effective, efficient, and engaging.

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