How to lead a Successful Virtual Meeting

Virtual meetings are the new normal and for many, a must. Virtual meetings help build team cohesion and communication when you can’t connect with your team in person. But think about the last virtual meeting you led. How was it?

Chances are you’ve struggled figuring out how to make a virtual meeting engaging and how to have an effective team meeting experience virtually. This might be because you need to focus more on understanding how to have effective meetings in general, with the added complexities of technology and virtual communication.

We’ll teach you some virtual conferences best practices, provide virtual meeting tips, and show you how to make virtual meetings fun. Your next meeting is sure to get the engagement and creativity you’re looking for from your team, while allowing the flexibility and safety of individual work environments.  

The benefits of successful virtual meetings

Before you learn how to run a meeting effectively, let’s run through the many benefits of virtual meetings. We’ve recently shifted to a more virtual world, but virtual teams were on the rise longer before the pandemic accelerated it. 

Remote meetings are a fantastic way to promote collaboration with people all over the world. If your team is located across different locations but still want to work through creative problem solving with the strongest intellectual assets on your team, virtual meetings can create the space to do that. It goes without saying that they’re also great for including those team members who can’t be in the office everyday. 

Video conferencing also helps teams reconnect with each other and the company’s values. Meeting time should reflect the company’s priorities. If your priority is creating a collaborative work environment that allows the free contribution of ideas, your team needs to be comfortable communicating with one another. Connecting virtually is a great way to promote those connections. 

Successful virtual meetings not only help build team connections and communication, they save employee time and resources in eliminating the office commute altogether. Giving your employees freedom to decide where they attend meetings allows you to access a global pool of talent. 

Virtual meetings best practices 

If you’re trying to figure out how to run a great virtual meeting, start with these best practices. 

  1. Have a planned meeting agenda and be ready to adhere to your timeline. Know what you need to take away from the meeting, including what deliverables and tasks you need, and who needs to complete them.
  2. Determine who will record notes regarding what is due and who needs to contribute.
  3. Prepare visuals and open links that you’ll need before the meeting starts.
  4. Have notes ready to keep your meeting on track, including a list of action items.
  5. Expect the meeting to move slower than an in-person meeting, and pause of feedback.
  6. Act like you’re in an in-person meeting. Focus on the speaker and listen actively.

It goes without saying that as a virtual meeting attendee or leader, it’s important to check your internet connection and make sure you enter the meeting muted. Similarly, make sure you’re familiar with the platform you’re using for your virtual meeting. Know where to find audio, video and other controls before the meeting begins. We also recommend using a high-quality headset so your team can hear you without hearing background noise.

Communication in meetings 

Effective communication in meetings is important any time. But for virtual collaboration, there are a few added challenges. 

Firstly, so much of human communication happens through eye-contact and reading one another’s body language. Most of that is lost in virtual meetings, so clarity and intention in language are very important. Having a good camera angle in a well-lit location and keeping your camera on throughout the virtual meeting can all help with this. 

Another thing that can help is using assertive communication. Assertive language is the happy medium between passive and aggressive language. It is respectful, concise, and direct. Avoid dragging on incomplete thoughts and allow a moment of silence after questions for your team to work through their ideas before speaking. Make sure team members that get interrupted are able to finish their thoughts and that each of your meeting attendees gets the room they need to voice their opinions. 

The purpose of a virtual meeting is creative collaboration, so make sure you’re collecting some diverse perspectives and including all meeting participants in the conversation who want to be. This includes opening other communication options to the group, like using the virtual chat box.  

How to make meetings more interactive 

Creative collaboration requires input from your entire team. So if you’re asking about how to make virtual meetings more interactive, you should also be asking how to make virtual meetings fun. Attendee engagement typically depends on virtual team leaders’ ability to organize and facilitate dialogue.   

A little bit of optimism and team building can go a long way. Be mindful of everyone’s time, but take a moment to greet everyone and invite relaxed conversation for a few minutes before the meeting begins. You can also set up team building exercises for every meeting, like asking your team to recognize one person’s hard work each week, or allowing each team member to ask the group an ice breaker question each week. 

Engagement activities for virtual meetings might also include setting up small group competitions or breakout rooms to discuss a topic not directly related to work, then regrouping to share. You might ask each group to choose their biggest win or most embarrassing work moment from the week before, and compete to see who has the best answer. Think of topics and questions that are inclusive, respectful of boundaries, and can help your team communicate and learn about one another. 

Lastly, give up control of the meeting. Virtual meetings require leaders to structure the meeting and maintain the integrity of that structure, but to let ideas flow naturally. Let your team interact and try to do as much (or more) listening as you do speaking.