Tips & Resources

The Key to Holding Productive Remote Meetings

Ella Webber

04 May 2020

Content originated from a previous article by Bre Gajewski.

If you’ve been in more than 10 remote meetings this week say I 🙋‍♀️

At this point, our lives are just one big zoom meeting. We should all be pretty good at it by now, considering the amount of free online meeting tools and remote meetings software that’s available to us. That being said, there’s always room to improve.

Meetings foster important communication between team members but when they are run inefficiently, the entire team can be left feeling like they’ve wasted their time. Below are our best tips on how to run an efficient and productive meeting.


6 tips for more productive remote meetings


1. Do you really need to have a meeting? 

“This could’ve been an email” is not what you want people to be thinking whilst you’re holding a meeting. 

Before you call a meeting and involve a handful of colleagues, think whether it’s entirely necessary to have a meeting at all. Could this be a well-structured email? Can this be an update to the Trello board? Do I really need to gather all these people for a 20-minute meeting?

If your answers to these questions lead you to question the necessity of your meeting, maybe consider not holding it.


2. Send out invites

Listen, if it’s not in the calendar it doesn’t exist. Read it, remember it, live by it.

Both Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar offer you the option to add your colleague’s calendars to your dashboard, making scheduling remote team meetings a whole lot easier. 

Make sure to send the invites far enough in advance, ideally with the correct date and time. Both can be altered later on but aim to get it right the first time.

Also important is inviting the right team members. There’s nothing worse than your contribution being over after 10 minutes, but having to stay on and listen to conversations that don’t involve you or your work for the next hour. It’s a waste of time, but not the best virtual meeting etiquette to dip halfway through.

Just because you have to be in both meetings, doesn’t mean other team members do. If necessary, split your meeting up into separate meetings with different agendas and attendees- the necessity to do so will become apparent when you start building a meeting agenda.


3. Set a meeting agenda

When you do not have a clear agenda of the topics that need to be discussed, it’s easy to get off-track. It’s important to manage participants’ expectations, both of the meeting and of what’s expected of them. Be explicit about: 

  • What you’re looking to discuss

  • What you want to accomplish 

  • How long it’s expected to last 

  • Everyone’s role in the meeting 

Planning is essential for facilitating remote meetings and is worth the time and effort necessary.

Share the agenda with participants a couple of days before the meeting so as to allow everyone attending to read and digest the information. Invite questions and suggestions, both lead to more productive remote meetings.


4. Start on time and jump right in

If you’re the host of the meeting, make sure to join the virtual meeting room a little before the start time to make sure you can start on time. Check your camera and mic are working and place the agenda in the chat so that everyone is on the same page.

Attendees should also be respectful and arrive on time- small talk should be limited to the time spent waiting for everyone to jump on the call. 

Be sure to be realistic in your estimation of how long the meeting will take, and in the case that it appears you’ll run over- let everybody know. If someone has plans after, they may need to leave and will appreciate your warning. Others may be available to stay, it’s down to you to manage your time and others’ expectations.

Starting and finishing on time is just virtual meeting best practices- you wouldn’t want to walk in 20 minutes late or babble through the end time in real-life meetings.


5.  Encourage engagement and note-taking

Virtual team meetings, like any meeting, can occasionally start to drag on. When physically in the same room, participants try their best to hide their boredom and pay attention. Remote team meetings give attendees the chance to take a back seat, it’s important to think about how to engage remote meeting participants.

One of the best ways to do this is to keep presentations interesting. There’s ample free screen sharing software, but lots of video conferencing platforms have the feature built-in. Encourage participation with post-presentation Miro brainstorming, it’s a great tool if you’re looking at how to make virtual meetings more interactive and engaging.

Note-taking is essential for everyone involved- it’s incredibly optimistic to think you’ll remember every last detail from the meeting. Every person in the meeting should be taking notes, even the leader.

This is where an agenda is super important- it guides participants on what’s important and gives them the opportunity to jot down notes as the meeting progresses. There are so many tools designed to help you take notes in meetings, but sometimes it’s more difficult to cram everything onto one screen. If you don’t have a second monitor available to you, aim to get the different windows set up before the meeting start to avoid distractions when it’s running.

Image from Tufts University

6. Send a recap once it’s done

The final thing you should do is to send a meeting recap email to all participants. To make things easy, just take the original agenda and add any notes that you made or fill in important details. Sometimes, it can also be helpful to send the presentation deck to the participants as well if they could benefit from it. 

Alternatively, take notes on a shared document, like on Google Docs or OneNote- that way all notes are collaborative and accessible to the whole team. 

If action is needed as a result of the meeting, send through to-do lists to the participants. This acts as a reminder of what was discussed, as well as details on what comes next. 


Wrapping up 

Every company has a different corporate culture and every freelancer likes to do business differently, but these are our picks for remote meetings best practices. They’re not rigid rules- they’re meant to be questioned and improved.

Let us know what your remote meeting best practices are and if you’ve got any incredible remote team meeting ideas to share. We’re always looking to make things a little more exciting.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a meeting to absolutely smash.

Zoom on,

The OCW Marketing team

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