How to Keep People From Tuning Out During “Virtual Meetings”

We’re living and working in a global economy now … and it’s becoming more and more common for companies to have branches and clients all over the world. So it’s not always easy, or even possible,  to get everybody together for an old-fashioned, face-to-face meeting. Fortunately, with today’s great technology, virtual meetings are becoming popular. Conducting one efficiently, and making sure your team gets all the information, takes the right set of skills!

Even traditional meetings can be tricky: finding the right time, making sure you have the right people, and most importantly being able to get, and keep, everyone’s attention. But when you’re not all able to gather around the conference table together, these problems are magnified. It’s harder to read people’s emotions and reactions, keeping everybody on the same page at the same time can be hard, and if you’re not careful, nothing will actually get done. Don’t risk letting your virtual meetings become a waste of your time and effort! Follow these tips to make your “virtual meetings” more successful.

When teleconferencing:

Telephone Off the Hook1. Teleconferencing takes organization

  • Provide training on the in’s and out’s of this medium to allow attendees to participate and benefit more fully
  • Notify meeting attendees well before the scheduled meeting
  • Send out an agenda before the meeting
  • Establish etiquette and conduct expectations

2. Assign roles before the meeting:

  • Gatekeeper: Ensures everyone has the chance to speak
  • Scribe: Takes meeting notes
  • Meeting Leader: Responsible for leading the meeting and keeping it on track
  • Participant: Responsible for listening and contributing to the meeting

3. Establish the call a little before the scheduled meeting time

4. Select a meeting site that is quiet, unlikely to have interruptions, and with chairs and a table if possible

5. Ask attendees to put cell phones on vibrate

Four businesspeople in boardroom with one business6. Be sure there is a good connection and that everyone can hear clearly

7. Whenever you speak, ALWAYS give your name first

8. ALWAYS use the name of the person you are speaking to

9. Do not interpret silence as consent. Ask for a verbal agreement.

10. Remind attendees that background noises are easily picked up and transmitted. Have them consider using the mute feature when they aren’t talking.

Videoconferencing is usually more successful and “comfortable” for people to use since attendees can “listen” with their ears AND their eyes. Much of communication takes place non-verbally, that is, through body language.

Before investing in videoconferencing equipment, consult with an expert who can explain the pros and cons of different systems. You will usually need a system that allows you to:

  • Business meeting in office, chatting on video conferenceSee all participants
  • See yourselves
  • View a computer screen

When videoconferencing:

1. First and foremost, remember you are on camera, and never do anything you wouldn’t do on TV

2. Remember that this technology often results in a transmission delay, and you may be required to adjust your rate of speech and response time accordingly

3. Set the camera to fill up the video frame

4. Don’t focus just on heads and faces

5. Remind attendees that background noises are easily picked up and transmitted. Have them consider using the mute feature when they aren’t talking.

6. Keep the meeting to two hours or less; it is harder to concentrate during a videoconference than when face to face

7. Don’t use videoconferencing for tasks that should be carried out in person

By using these strategies, you’ll keep your team engaged and get the most out of your virtual meetings!


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