Meetings are a crucial aspect of running any business – though more often than not, we tend to dread them. If you are in charge of chairing the meeting, it can be daunting if you are not prepared. This article will give you some ideas for what to do before and during the meeting in order to save you time, energy and make it go swiftly for the entire team!

Things to Do to Prepare For a Remote Team Meeting

Organize an agenda and share it beforehand

Email your agenda to your team at least a day in advance so that everyone is prepared. Discuss the key points which are to be addressed in the meeting so that everyone knows how to respond and how they wish to address the topic.

If particular topics are sensitive and confidential, this alerts the team members to perhaps pick a private space for the call as opposed to a busy coffee shop.

One should remember that people turn to remote work because they want freedom of time. As a result, it is imperative that meetings be efficient. Anything that does not need extensive discussion could be mentioned in an email or even via chat – but can be eliminated from the call itself.

Inform your team on whether this is an audio or video meeting

Often we are caught by surprise on what type of virtual meeting we will have. This will prepare your staff to present themselves properly if on camera. If the meeting is high priority or may discuss confidential/sensitive material – inform your team beforehand. Often remote workers are at a coworking space or coffee shop, but if they know the meeting is more urgent they may opt for a quiet room or out of their home.

This also helps your team members know how best to present themselves. If the call is an audio one, team members will take extra care to bring emotion and clarity to their speech. They will project their voice. They will make sure their message is understood – owing to the lack of visuals.

On a visual call, team members focus on how they are dressed, and on their body language. Particularly if the meeting may have clients, board of directors, investors, or any other key players – there will be an emphasis on visual presentation.

During the Meeting…

Of course, it is not just your team members who have to know how to present themselves! While we all love working remotely, we know that remote work also presents its own challenges. Leading a remote team meeting is in many ways trickier than doing it in person.

Here are some quick tips on how best to lead a team meeting:

  • Small talk and an update: It is always great to start on a light note and begin with some small talk. Ask your team members how they have been doing and how things are outside of work. With remote teams, the “water cooler chat” is often nonexistent – and showing the human side to your team members makes a huge difference. Follow with an update of what has happened in the company or since the last meeting before moving on.
  • Include everyone: in a meeting, everyone should have some sort of participation. As a leader, you can reach out to each team member and have them speak and offer their input on the topics at hand. With remote work, workers are often working by themselves hunched over their laptops and are not as social as working in person. Help break your team members out of their shell by having them participate.
  • Have a conversation: this continues with the previous tip. Ensure that your meeting is engaging and that there is a back-and-forth amongst all the team members. It should not be you shouting from your pulpit!
  • Be the leader: remember that you are the chair of the meeting. While everyone should participate, it is your responsibility to make sure that no one veers off-topic. Set guidelines such as time limits, conciseness, and focusing on what cannot be communicated with a quick email!
  • End with feedback and to-do’s: before wrapping up your meeting, offer feedback to your team and ask them if they have any feedback or questions. Make sure you mention what tasks need to be accomplished and the deadlines. Wish everyone well and tell them you look forward to the next meeting.
  • Ask for feedback on the meeting itself: you can ask your team to provide feedback on how the meeting was conducted. Use this information to strategize the next meeting to make it more efficient and effective.

That’s it! Remote team meetings are a challenge but if you incorporate these above tips you will run smooth and effective meetings.

Do you have experience in leading a remote team meeting? What do you do to ensure an effective meeting?