18 tips to improve your remote team meetings so you keep your team (introverts, extroverts & ambiverts) engaged. Let’s be honest few people (introvert or extrovert) enjoy team meetings, but add the word “remote” and it gets harder. Business life is hard enough during the Covid-19 lockdown, so anything to make your remote meetings more effective is worth considering.
When people are working from home, coordination and effective two way communication become more important.
Remote team meetings – technology.
- Choice of online system: There are many around, which vary in functions, but also sound quality. Zoom works well and isn’t expensive, Microsoft teams is already available to many companies, Adobe Connect is very good and allows many different screen formats, which allows you to keep the meeting feeling fresh. There are many other effective systems. Your technology isn’t as important as your meeting management.
- Practice using your system: Have a dry run before you get the whole team in, get used to the controls and what can be seen on your camera
- Have a backup plan: Technology can fail from time to time. Will you all try again in 5 minutes, revert to a group phone call, send an email? Have plan b understood by the team before you start.
- Recording: I doubt you’d want to record a “normal” team meeting, so don’t see why you would record a remote one. The recording is likely to reduce engagement and “radical” ideas. But, if you are recording let people know.
- Understand remote meeting fatigue: It’s real and can be reduced. This page will help but also read understanding zoom fatigue improves remote meetings
- Team understanding. The team all need to be comfortable using the system and best practice in terms of camera use, speakers, microphone and the infamous mute button. It maybe worth recording a short video for new team members as part of their onboarding.
18 Remote meeting tips.
These ideas will improve any online / remote team meeting, engage introverts in meetings (specially remote meetings).
- Agenda: Think about it and share it 4-5 days early. This is always important (especially for introverts), but more so with online meetings.
- Simple slides – if you must: Trying to understand a complex slide, or series of slides is bad in normal meetings, but in a remote meeting it’s easy to just ignore them. Focus on letting the team see you and use simple slides only when essential.
- Start and finish on time: Starting late only shows you don’t care and finishing late shows you didn’t manage the meeting, both show you up. To get full involvement from the team, specially the introverts or any extroverts who don’t talk as much as they might want to – stick to the times. How do you feel when you’re the victim of an overrunning meeting, I bet you don’t concentrate on it!
- Purpose: What’s the purpose of the meeting? All the delegates need to understand it and just to make an announcement isn’t normally a good reason. Don’t forget to structure the agenda to suit the purpose and how you’ll collectively make any decisions.
- Decision making: One great thing about remote meeting is that you can easily set up polls in different ways. That could help decision making, and is a good way for introverts to engage in the meeting without having to butt in. Once people engage, they’re more likely to keep on engaging.
- Meeting management roles: Give as many people roles as you can and vary who does what each meeting.
- “Small talk” before starting: If the call starts at 10:30, it’s good to be online 5 minutes before hand. This can be a good time to do the general chatter that your team would normally so in the office. It’s an important part of team.
- First 5 minutes: Get everybody to contribute to the meeting in the first few minutes, even if that’s only their name, where they are, what they’re working on.
- Self-mute, not self-isolate: Nothing is more frustrating than a call full of background noise. Get all delegates to join in when they want to but mute themselves when they don’t. Introverts can be especially sensitive to background noise, but they’re not the only ones. The exception is sections where you want interaction, for example a rewards section where you want to hear people clap, shout or say “well done”. A reward section like this can improve interaction.
- Manage even more tightly than normal: “5 things to make meetings more effective” has ideas about running a meeting normally, all these rules apply and more. A remote meeting makes it easier for introverts to tune out when some people dominate and/ or go off topic.
- Use the chat box and the voice box: Many systems allow you many channels, with a chat box which can allow many people to “say things” at once and a voice channel. It’s another way to keep people engaged. If you’re using chat box, do review it to make sure you don’t miss points (or have a nominated person do this throughout the meeting).
- Encourage video as well as voice: You want the team to keep getting to know each other, so encourage everybody to activate their camera. Most systems will show the camera of the person that’s talking.
- Have a clearer agenda than normal: On the call you want to show the agenda and where you are on the agenda to keep people on track, but you don’t want to waste time explaining it! Don’t allow time for extra agenda items, encourage the team to add to the agenda before you send it out.
- Quit while you’re ahead: Don’t let it drag on, or the next meeting will be even worse!
- Work round the “room”: At times during the meeting get a view from everybody. That might be by text, but much better voice. It might be a good idea for you to mute all the others at that time.
- Everybody speak in the last 5: First 5 and last 5. Another good time to get everybody to engage is the last 5 minutes. “What was good about the meeting“, “what’s your score out of 10 for the meeting“, or “what is the main thing you’ll do differently as a result”.
- Recap at the end: Just before working around “the room” to finish, recap the main points and important action items (and get each team member to list their main action point).
- Send action summary: Get one team member to note all the actions and to email them out after the meeting.
How to engage a remote team, including the introverts.
It’s easier for people, especially introverts, to disengage in remote meetings. The 22 tips above will allow your whole team, especially the introverts, to engage in your remote meetings more effectively. In summary, manage the meetings so they’re shorter and stay closer to the agenda. Get everybody to speak (preferably in the first couple of minutes) and give as many people as possible a role in managing the meeting (except you).
What action will you take to improve your remote team meetings?
Running Meetings that make things happen
by Jon Baker
As cited in the Economist