New technology has made many businesses to replace entrepreneurs required to meet employees in person. The convenience and ease of adoption of these new technologies has the ability to greatly affect the productivity of a business. Collaboration and connectivity issues among various teams situated in various geographic locations significantly affected transnational business operation in the past. Virtual meetings assist companies to avoid any logistical hassles that might arise from planning space for accommodation, delegating to other employees work of the participant and making for attendees the necessary travel arrangements. In addition, virtual meeting team leaders are relieved of the responsibility of managing both the planning as well as execution of such meetings.
A virtual meeting can be defined as an even or even a series of events whereby participants are able to join in from various geographical locations. Normally, everybody participates in such proceedings simultaneously via video conference or teleconference. However, attendees can also login in from various time zones.
Embracing a virtual mode communication can prove to be quite cost-effective especially for small business owners. This is with regard to conducting different types of meetings like conferences, training and webinars.
The following are some insightful tips that hosts of virtual meetings can follow to facilitate flawless virtual meetings:
1.Reliable high-quality connectivity system
It is almost impossible for everybody to find time to attend meetings. This is because most prefer attending virtual meetings that does not involve booking for accommodation and conveyance. Uninterrupted virtual meetings require high-end hardware and impeccable internet connectivity to provide it with the required support. The technology being used should be accessible to every participant and easy to operate. It is good practice to have asynchronous or simultaneous techniques of testing the devices about 15 minutes before the meeting commences to identify any technical glitch and to rectify it.
There are notable technologies currently available in the market that are utilized for virtual conference by many businesses and are considered to be the most reliable. These platforms include GoToMeeting, GroupMe, Zoom, WebEx and Skype for Business. GoToMeeting and GroupMe allow users to access various facilities such as group messaging, screen sharing, sharing documents and video calling.
2.Go for video transmission rather than audio only
Video conferencing is considered more interactive and engaging for holding meetings compared to pure audio calls. This is because it allows users to receive the attendees’ undivided attention and enables them to pick up any nonverbal cues. Videoconferencing encourages the active participation in discussions. The cost of videoconferencing is at minimal values because of technologies such as Skype. Video conferencing humanizes the room because it enables interaction between team members and other people while looking at each other. Some of the leading video conferencing tools are RingCentral, Adobe Connect, Join.me and ClickMeeting.
3.Increase level of engagement
It is important to find creative ways of keeping participants engaged and determining their level of interest and participation. The host needs to seek feedback and input from participants on a regular basis a matter of good practice. This will ensure that participants are interested in discussions. Any visual distraction that has the potential of disrupting the meeting’s flow should be removed immediately. The participants of virtual meetings should also be assigned different tasks to keep them engaged. When more individuals are involved in managing the functions of a virtual meeting, it tends to sustains momentum of discussions.
Alternatively, participants of virtual meetings can be sent emails containing the main agenda before the actual meeting. Prerequisite knowledge allows participants to benefit more from the meeting. This is because they will have thought about the content ahead of time, formulated new ideas or even organized themselves in groups to analyze the content in an objective manner. However, this method assumes that everybody who pre-read the content sent on email attends the meeting.
4.Minimize the usage of mute function
The frequent use of the mute function is a bad habit that is common amongst participants of videoconferencing. It has the potential of killing the mood of virtual events. The mute function was designed to cancel any unwanted sounds from noisy environments. The frequent use of this button always indicates that present members are there as an audience rather than as participants. The following are some norms that hosts of virtual meetings can set to facilitate spontaneous discussions:
i. Participants should not get up during meetings and walk around the room.
ii. Responding to emails during virtual meetings should be prohibited. It is disrespectful to the person speaking and hampers the chances of achieving a lively conversation.
iii. Participants should never go on mute so as to have a parallel conversation with a colleague.
5.Use measurement tools to determine the effectiveness of a meeting
The use of measurement techniques is the best way to analyze how effective a virtual meeting is. This allows any existing problems to be rectified to enhance the meeting’s overall productivity. A comprehensive report on topics discussed in a meeting and accuracy of information is necessary for a post-meeting assessment to be effective. The 4 main parameters that are used to assess a virtual meeting’s effectiveness are the way forward, level of participation, meeting process and meeting results. The only way to enhance quality of meeting discussions is to:
i. Set objectives for every meeting.
ii. Discuss how the objectives can be achieved.
iii. Determining exactly how to measure a discussion’s effectiveness.
An effective meeting discussion is one whereby:
i. The participants are keen on attending the virtual meeting.
ii. The participants show confidence in both the process as well as the results.
iii. Advanced technology assisted the proceedings of the virtual meeting.
iv. The level of participation is very high.
v. All objectives that were mentioned in the agenda are discussed and the desired outcomes attained.
The tips above can be easily used to devise measurement tools for virtual meetings.
Virtual meetings and telecommuting characterize daily corporate life because many organizations are adopting global business strategies. This is what has influenced companies to implement various cost-effective strategies to communicate as well as to integrate different stakeholders of the company. Effective virtual meetings can greatly assist companies to achieve this but without exorbitant spending. Businesses need to be very aware of all the possible situations that virtual meetings can be useful, knowledge of the manner and time of using this technology is important.