By Paulina Carbonaro
While it’s important to carve out 1-on-1 time with your employees, hosting group team meetings is just as essential. Team meetings are a place to inform and have discussions about things that impact the group as a whole. It’s an opportunity to bring up issues, show appreciation, motivate, and engage in friendly debate. Regular meetings also preserve the cohesiveness of your team by encouraging collaboration and open communication.
As the manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the meeting provides value to everyone on your team and is a safe space for exchange of ideas. But leading these meetings effectively over video is not always so easy.
Challenges of Virtual Meetings
In addition to technical difficulties that could disrupt a video call, from Wi-Fi interruptions to poor sound equipment, there are limitations in how people interact with each other virtually. For example, you can’t pass around presentation materials. It’s also much harder to notice gestures and facial cues over video thereby making it difficult to read how people are responding.
Then there is the personality gap. It’s likely that your team consists of some who are more outspoken than others and tend to dominate the conversation. But not everyone is comfortable or effective at communicating through video conferencing and may need a bit more encouragement.
5 Tips for Team Managers
When managing a geographically dispersed team, video meetings are your best and only option so it’s important to get them right. Here are five useful tips for leading productive virtual team meetings:
#1 Encourage Participation
In order to make these meetings valuable, aim to engage everyone on the call and go the extra mile to be inclusive. Think of yourself as the facilitator. Don’t let some dominate the meeting, nor should you. Call on different people throughout and use the chat feature to allow for comments and questions, especially if you know that some of your team members are less likely to speak out on video.
Another way to engage your team via video is to show visuals. We’re not recommending a lengthy PowerPoint presentation here but it’s a good idea to break up the meeting with a few quick visuals on the screen that relate to the discussion to help garner attention. Some video conferencing platforms offer a white board feature which is a great tool to get everyone interacting and brainstorming.
#2 Set Ground Rules
Define what your team’s video meeting etiquette should be. Most of us in the workplace are not new to video conferencing anymore and we have a pretty good idea of what to expect, do or not do, but there remain ambiguities. Some employees still struggle with not knowing who could talk when, resulting in awkward interruptions, for example.
It’s helpful to set rules such as camera must be turned on, raise your hand to speak, stay muted unless speaking, or notifications must be turned off (we all hate those loud pings every time an email comes in and it could be disruptive to the speaker). The point is, figure out what the best guidelines for your team are and communicate the expectations to everyone to level out the playing field.
#3 Plan Ahead
While impromptu meetings are sometimes necessary, regular team meetings should be planned in advance to maximize their value and ensure that everyone comes prepared with meaningful information. Provide an agenda to your team at least a couple days ahead of the meeting and specify who will be required to speak and about what. When everyone comes prepared, with clear expectations set out beforehand, you can tackle any problems during the meeting more effectively with data in front of you. It also prevents having to schedule a follow-up meeting just to go over something that could have been dealt with already.
Prepared team = happy team 😊
#4 Define Intent
Is the purpose of this meeting to discuss a particular issue or a broader update on what everyone is working on? Define it and let your team know. Try to stick to the agenda items and encourage things that are unrelated to the group to be taken offline. Everyone’s time is precious.
This is particularly important in virtual meetings because it is much easier to lose focus and tune out. You don’t have to be rigid about this of course, as sometimes the defined purpose of the meeting can spontaneously evolve into something else that is important to discuss as well. However, you want to leave everyone feeling that the meeting achieved something.
#5 Ask for Feedback
So maybe during your last team meeting you noticed a few yawns and you didn’t get the laughs you expected from that hilarious joke you told. That’s ok. You can always get better at leading virtual team meetings, especially if you ask how. Each team is different so find out what your group of employees likes and dislikes about the meetings, what is valuable to them, and adjust your approach to suit their needs. Collecting feedback from your team also makes them part of the process and therefore invested in making these meetings effective.
In a remote world, we need video meetings to stay connected and help sustain a positive work culture. It might take you a while to figure out what the best strategies are for your team and it’s ok to try out different things to see what works. Use these meetings to strengthen your relationship with your employees and leverage different tech tools, such as Pulsify’s Team Meetings feature, to help you maximize meeting productivity.