Better Remote Meetings That Save Time

With many of us working from home at the moment, remote meetings are becoming the norm. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t hear someone say “I’ve been on Zoom all day”. This happens to me personally at least twice a week and it can be mentally draining. Pre COVID, the walk from one meeting to another was a mental escape that looking back I took for granted. According to Atlassian, the average employee attends 62 meetings in a month but from these 62 meetings, they spent 31 hours in unproductive meetings. This equates to around 50% of meetings being unproductive. It is easier to schedule a Zoom meeting but just like anything in life, more of something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better or more productive. Wouldn't you rather spend this time doing real work or working on something you enjoy? I think it is everyone’s duty to run more productive meetings and respect each other’s time so time can be spent on what really matters. Today I’m going to share with you my guide to running more effective remote meetings.

Question if a Meeting is Needed

Before scheduling another meeting and adding it to everyone’s calendars, stop and take a minute to clarify the exact reason and point behind this meeting. By questioning the need for each meeting, you will stop work from being disrupted and enable your colleagues and employees to focus better on their tasks.

This certainly doesn’t mean you should never have meetings. Communication is key to success with remote workers, but it’s crucial to ensure the meeting offers value to everyone involved. Some good points to consider when planning a meeting are the time-sensitivity of the subject, what outcome you are looking for, and who is needed to attend. If you decide you can hold this communication using Slack, a report from a system, or email, utilize these options instead of consuming more of everyone’s time. As you build a habit of question meetings you want to set up, it will slowly influence those around you to do the same, letting you lead by example.

Choosing the Right Format

Like in-person conversations and meetings, remote meetings can also take many different forms. For communication between managers and their direct reports, one-to-one sessions are the best course of action. By scheduling these as a recurring meeting, both individuals will be able to discuss pressing issues and receive feedback.

Team meetings are an opportunity for a whole group of teammates to meet and collaborate on decisions and upcoming projects. These meetings are essential for ensuring everyone is moving in the same direction, especially when you are not physically working together. Ensure team meetings stick to an agenda and that by the end of the meeting, you have a clear outline for the next steps for every participant. By documenting the meeting in notes, everyone can easily refer back to the points discussed afterward. One-off meetings are those that are held once in a while for a specific reason such as a project kick-off or review, or a planning session.

No Agenda, No Meeting

Once you’ve decided to schedule the meeting, your next step is to form an agenda. This ensures that no important topics are missed and that the meeting does not get derailed. Share it in advance with your participants, and they’ll be fully prepared for the meeting.

Agendas will vary slightly depending on the nature of the meeting, but always keep in mind your goals. During one-on-one meetings, it’s important to establish a method and structure that works for both. For team meetings, addressing current issues and metrics is a more prominent part of the agenda. One-off meetings may need a schedule to be built from scratch but should include a project brief, responsibilities and next steps.

Additional Things to Avoid

  • Vagueness – Ensure everyone leaves the meeting with actionable items and who they are assigned to.

  • Lack of documentation – Make sure notes are taken throughout the meeting.

  • Ignoring feedback – it’s crucial to learn if your attendees found the meeting useful.

  • Switching your camera off – While we don’t all want to be on camera all the time, it’s vital to get a real connection and bond with your team by showing your face as much as possible.

  • Lack of flexibility – Everyone is adjusting to the new working normal, so show flexibility for your employees, especially for those looking after children or sick relatives.

  • Poor Invites - Make sure all necessary information is in the meeting invite and it is mobile friendly.

  • Unprepared - If you are going to share your screen, be prepared. Don't use the meeting time to load a file or log in to a system.

  • Bad connection - If you have a bad connection, use your phone for audio instead of using your device's audio.

If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be able to run productive remote meetings. By ensuring every meeting is necessary, you’ll get better engagement from your team, which will lead to improved results and productivity in the long run.

Do you have any additional tips? Drop them in the comment box.

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