Ever felt frustrated during a virtual meeting? With so many factors beyond your control, it happens. It’s normal. All you can do is focus on minimizing distractions and optimizing productivity. To keep things moving along (while being a good example), consider these eight tips:
- Prepare for the meeting. Remember to make the most of your time together. Just because you’re not sitting across from your colleagues, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework beforehand.
- Be aware of time. Call in a few minutes early, if possible, to make sure the meeting starts on time. It can be easy to let time slip away in virtual meetings, but watching the clock and agenda optimizes the allotted time.
- Suggest a round of introductions. Let people know when you first join the call, and encourage brief introductions if attendees are new to one another.
- Befriend the mute button. No matter how quiet you think your call-in surroundings are, even the subtlest of ambient noise can be a distraction for everyone on the call. No one wants to hear breathing, chewing, sipping, or the washer and dryer. The opposite is true, too: “I couldn’t find the mute button” is now among the cliché of all clichés.
- Take a breath. Consider speaking in short stretches and pausing between ideas. Not only does this help listeners follow your train of thought, but it also allows others to jump in with questions or clarifications.
- Save detours for offline. Stay on topic as much as possible. Getting into super-detailed discussions with only a few people on the call—or getting off topic—can be disrespectful of everyone’s time. If a conversation begins to go off track, suggest tabling a topic for later.
- Recap and sum up next steps. When the meeting is near its end, re-hash or summarize what was accomplished, what needs to be done, or any additional homework. If a follow-up meeting needs to be scheduled, suggest a time. And then send a meeting invitation soon afterward.
- End on a high. A closing “goodbye” is always polite—something to let people know the call is over and you’re about to hang up. If you know you need to leave the meeting early, let everyone know at the beginning of the call. This way you’ll help prevent a disruption when you drop off the call.
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