Inntel are in the business of managing GREAT meetings.   According to a study by Great Business Schools, 84% of people still say they prefer in-person meetings.   But in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, there is an alternative.

Virtual meetings

Not all the benefits of face to face meetings are lost in a virtual meetings and we’d like to share our tips to make your virtual meeting as effective as possible.

Be prepared:

  • Send out your agenda beforehand. This cuts down on time and makes for better interaction as the attendees will have had a chance to put their thoughts to the meeting content before the meeting starts. Make sure the meeting attendees know that they are expected to prepare as much before the meeting as they would in a face to face meeting.
  • Turn on the video equipment before everyone joins the meeting.  This will help people feel part of the meeting from the minute they join it.  It won’t make them feel just like they’re in the same room, but it will help.
  • Hold a video conference rather than just audio if possible. You’ll be able to see other peoples’ body language, reactions and emotions and interaction will be better than telephone alone.  The meeting host and speakers will be able to see if everyone is engaging and paying attention.  

Once the meeting starts:

  • Introduce everyone, or better still get them to introduce themselves – say a few words. This will help as an ice-breaker and is essential if your virtual meeting has people who have not met in person before.  Your meeting won’t be successful or productive if the attendees are uncomfortable or don’t feel connected with each other.
  • Think carefully before asking people to switch their phones to mute.  Whilst it’s tempting because of potential background noise, having a phone on mute will encourage attendees to multi-task and you’ll lose their attention.
  • In your regular face-to-face meetings, getting up to make a coffee without saying anything, sending emails or making other phone calls probably wouldn’t be acceptable and the same should apply for virtual meetings.  Keeping the sound on will keep up discussion, allow others to hear verbal and non-verbal feedback and give your meeting a better flow.    This is another good reason to use video rather than just audio calling – reading facial expressions and body language are important for good meetings.
  • The meeting host should encourage in-meeting participation, frequently asking for people’s opinions and thoughts.  This will keep people alert.

After the meeting:

  • Face to face meetings have a tendency to ‘wind down’, once the formal agenda items have been dealt with.   This often doesn’t happen in virtual meetings and they are cut off quite quickly, but the winding down stage is often when important items are brought up so time should be allowed for winding down.

In conclusion:

We don’t believe that virtual meetings are ever as effective as face-to-face meetings as personal interactions are essential for business relationship building. Even the most technology driven people want to meet face to face.  According to a study by FactTank, even though they’ve grown up in a highly digital age, 80% of Millennials say they prefer meeting face-to-face. We do, however, hope this guide to virtual meetings helps whilst you have restrictions on face-to-face meetings.