How to Facilitate a Remote Team Meeting Effectively

Whether you’re a manager, have a leadership role in a company, or you’re working on a project, chances are you’ll need to facilitate team meetings. A great plus here is that you can organize your own meeting however you see fit.

However, there are some major differences between face-to-face and remote meetings, which can affect or disrupt their effectiveness. Here, we look at some of the pitfalls of facilitating remote team meetings and how you can overcome them to run a productive meeting.

Pros and cons of facilitating remote meetings

Video conferencing apps like Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams, have made running online meetings very popular. With just one click, you’re ready to go. There are many benefits to doing group meetings virtually, including:

  • Easily access the digital documents you need to share.
  • Ability to record sessions.
  • No need to consider travel time.
  • No difficulty with booking rooms for meetings.
  • You can meet colleagues and external stakeholders from around the world.

And more. However, there are also some roadblocks with this approach, which can hinder productivity. Some examples could be:

  • Technical issues with audio and video.
  • Tired video conferencing.
  • Communication was difficult when there were so many people in attendance.
  • Teams are delayed or lacking in response due to normal visual and auditory delays.
  • Disruption of visual cues and body language.

MAKE A VIDEO OF THE DAY

There are certain aspects of a face-to-face conversation that are almost impossible to reproduce. The good news is that you can optimize this experience with some effective tips and tricks.

1. Create organic discussions with an agenda

There needs to be a plan for any team meeting, no matter how it’s done. An agenda is simply a structured summary of what needs to be discussed. Generally, these are shared with your attendees before the session. This can be via email, or with apps like Google Workspace, you can include the agenda in your calendar invitations.

However, to run an effective remote meeting, you should avoid listing updates and reminders to everyone. Instead, your agenda needs to engage and spark discussion. Here are some ideas:

  • Make time for non-work related group checks.
  • Start with an open discussion topic that you know your group will have an opinion on.
  • Only include the points that you want people to comment on.
  • Keep the agenda short (people can only focus for a certain amount of time).

You don’t have to do all of these things all the time, but they’ll definitely encourage organic conversation the more you do them.

2. Use the Break Out Room

Typically, team meetings revolve around a specific agenda and focus on bringing the team together. However, sometimes breaking these traditions and trying something new is new.

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet are all capable of creating breakout rooms. These are small meeting rooms so your team can discuss things in smaller groups.

This is useful if you have a larger group or meet with more than one group at a time. It also addresses the previously mentioned problem of colleagues having difficulty communicating when there are many attendees.

Breakout rooms are not always suitable, for example if you have fewer team members. You should also make sure that any discussion taking place is necessary, rather than just to fill the time. Once everyone is back in the main room, you’re free to ask for feedback on your colleagues’ discussions. This is so you can collect key points and move them forward.

3. Presenting information using a shared screen

One difficulty when sharing information remotely is that sometimes people don’t understand what you’re saying. So instead of just telling your team what to do, why not show them? There are many benefits to sharing your screen in video conferencing applications, including:

  • Provide visuals to your team.
  • Account for different learning styles.
  • Give your team a chance to observe the processes.
  • Adds an extra layer of information, in addition to auditory explanations.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you should just share your agenda on screen, as this is unlikely to get your team’s attention. Instead, consider which items on the agenda need further explanation, or need supporting evidence. Some examples could be:

  • If you notice that your employees aren’t performing their duties properly, teach them how to follow a specific process.
  • Data presentation and research.
  • Training opportunities.

4. When to hold a meeting versus when to send an email

There has been a lot of research done, concluding that too many meetings are harmful to employee productivity, health, and motivation. How many times have you joined a video call that could have been just an email?

When you hold a meeting, you’re essentially disrupting the team’s workflow and focus. For this reason, you need to secure the necessary content. Video calls should be for in-depth discussion, collaboration, and encouraging team participation. Just because virtual meetings are easy to sign up and attend, doesn’t mean you should rely on them.

Here are some cases where you can choose alternatives for video conferencing:

Sometimes your coworker just wants to take a break from typing and talking to people. This is definitely something to consider, but don’t waste it on meetings where everyone is silent, listening to you.

Effective Remote Meetings Requires Planning

Holding meetings via video conferencing applications requires slightly different planning than face-to-face meetings. The main difficulty arises when the participants lack consideration.

However, any remote meeting can be productive with a full agenda and efficient use of the time. This means discovering discussion topics that everyone involved is really interested in and just sticking to what is required. With the tips explored here, you’ll have plenty of practical ways to organize your remote meetings, keeping them productive and accessible to all participants.



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Sarah Ridley

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