Virtual business meetings have become commonplace in a rapidly evolving business environment. Since everything in business has becomes more streamlined and efficient, it wasn’t long before the conventional face to face meeting was identified as a critical area for change and improvement.
However that being the case, there are still huge improvements that do need to be made to our conduct in this virtual meeting place. This blog takes a look at some of the (new) rules that need to be followed to make sure that they run effectively and smoothly:
Virtual Business Meetings #1: Test run your application ahead of time
Nothing kills the purpose of a virtual meeting more than technical issues and in fact technical issues are no longer an acceptable excuse. Often when someone states that they are experiencing ‘technical issues’ that individual is perceived as ill-equipped and disorganised irrespective of whether the the fact was true. Technical issues delay the meeting wasting people’s time and causing huge frustration between all parties. In order to avoid this, test run your virtual ‘meeting place’ with a colleague long before the actual meeting has to take place. If it is your first time using that particular platform such as ‘Google Hangouts’, spend some time familiarising yourself with the application before you have to sign in for your meeting.
Virtual Business Meetings #2: Rules of Engagement for Virtual Meetings
Rules of engagement are a highly effective tool for how you would like a meeting to run.
Virtual meetings can be extremely difficult since you often don’t have the visual cues to identify when someone would like to talk. The best solution is to have someone chair the meeting, they will lay down the ground rules for how the flow of the meeting will run. This may include the chair of the meeting saying, ‘I will give each participant a chance to talk. I will mention your name and this will be your opportunity to comment. Alternatively another rule may be, ‘If you would like to comment on what is being said, put your virtual hand up and I will come to you.’
The clearer the ground rules at the onset of the meeting, the easier it will be to maintain the flow of the meeting and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard. In fact if done well, virtual meetings offer a greater opportunity for everyone to be heard as opposed to face-to-face meetings.
Virtual Business Meetings #3: Prepare Your Environment
Since virtual meetings offer us the flexibility of working from anywhere, we need to be circumspect about where we host our meetings from. When hosting a meeting from home, there are many domestic sounds that seem to filter through our microphones into our virtual meetings such as dogs barking, children playing and the vacuum cleaner going. If you have a virtual meeting scheduled, try by all means to prepare a silent environment by locking the dogs as far away as possible, chatting to your husband or wife about taking the children out for a walk and allowing silence in the home. Take your backdrop into account should you be making use of video calls, ensure that your backdrop appears professional and neat.
Avoid virtual meetings at coffee shops where it may be very loud, which often causes stress since you simply cannot hear your participants clearly.
Virtual Business Meetings #4: Body language is important
If you have the choice of a voice call versus a video call, always choose the video call. We communicate predominantly with our bodies therefore if we do not have the visual cues from our participants, it’s hard to gauge their interest and respond appropriately. This also means that your participants can see you, so make sure your body language is open and welcoming. Watch our video on body language and why it’s important. Remember to look towards the camera to give the illusion that you are making eye contact and thus actively listening. You can also make use of head nods and smiles to show your acknowledgement and validation.
Virtual Business Meetings #5: Speak Slower with people of Different Cultures
Often when doing business with people of a different language it can be challenging for them to understand what is being said especially when sound may not be crystal clear, if this is the case, slow down your speech to make it easier to grasp.
Virtual Business Meetings #6:Know when to call a face-to-face meeting
In a harvard Business review study, 95% said that face-to-face meetings were a key
factor in successfully building and maintaining long-term relationships. As business owners embrace virtual events as a cost-effective methods to streamline their companies, it’s important to ensure that effective communication isn’t being traded for bottom-line savings. So if you have important, complicated or difficult messages to convey in a meeting, its sometimes best to do it in person.
Virtual Business Meetings #7: Time Zones
If you are meeting with participants whom are living in different time zones, always research what an appropriate time is for the both of you. You can simply do this by researching wha their time is according to GMT. When giving your desired meeting time, always state the time according to GMT.
Virtual Meetings are soon becoming the dominant form of global interaction and as such it would be wise to get comfortable and tech savvy with this way of doing business. It is the business playground of the future and showing your capability now, will reflects that you are a forward thinking, capable professional. Get started today with improving your virtual meetings!