Modern technology has forever changed the landscape of our human interaction, with many companies opting to have fewer face-to-face meetings and more digital conversations through email and chat apps. Although this may seem like a quicker way to get things done, it’s actually a poor replacement for certain tasks where true face-to-face communication is optimal. This blog provides team meeting ideas and outlines helpful ways to improve your next meetings instead of canceling them.
What Are Remote Team Meetings?
Remote team meetings are virtual meetings that bring all team members together to relay information and track important project milestones. They are an essential part of a team’s communication strategy and, when leveraged correctly, provide order to team objectives, decision making and problem solving. An effective team meeting is agenda-driven, with a clear team leader and methodical approach.
Are You Maximizing Productivity in Your Remote Meetings?
Technical problems, lengthy meetings, unproductive meetings, meetings before and after meetings and meetings to review what took place in a previous meeting can all lead to meeting fatigue. Over time, this can wear down an employee’s productivity and satisfaction. And while some companies have started to combat meeting fatigue by minimizing or canceling physical meetings, others are solving meeting issues with better, more effective team meeting strategies. Here are four signs of a bad remote meeting culture:
1. Frequent technical problems
Virtual team meetings have the same issues as in-person meetings, but technical problems add another layer of difficulty to them. A lot of time is wasted during these meetings because employees do not fully understand how to use the communication tools. Video conferencing calls can be especially frustrating to sit through when coworkers don’t mute their microphones, pay attention or use common courtesy. Check out our blog on Video Conferencing Etiquette for useful tips and best practices.
2. Goals aren't being accomplished
The best way to kill productivity during the workday is to sit through a dysfunctional meeting that lacks a clear purpose and ends without accomplishing anything. Every meeting should have a list of agenda items and a specific goal, and attendees should work to accomplish that goal by the end of the meeting. Check out our blog How to Run an Effective Meeting in 8 Steps for a better way to host team meetings.
3. Run out of time
A 30-minute scheduled meeting can end up lasting an hour or more, wasting precious time for all attendees. Setting a strict start and end time and sticking to those times shows your team members that you respect and value their time and allows them to quickly get back to their daily work.
4. Meetings disguised as emails or chat conversations
While Microsoft Teams, Slack and email conversations are great for quick updates and check-ins, to really ensure the entire team is working together on the same goals, face-to-face meetings are still needed. Miscommunication is one of the major causes of inefficiency in the workplace. Many of these issues can be attributed to written communication and the various ways we interpret emails or chat messages.
Why Face-to-Face Meetings Are Critical for Remote Teams
Studies show that as much as 93% of communication is nonverbal. Having the ability to engage your teammates in face-to-face conversations and interpret their reactions is critically important in your team’s ability to communicate effectively.
Human interaction is an innate need
Even though advancements in technology have sped up the way we communicate through digital correspondence, we still have an innate need to feel close and connected to other humans through face-to-face interactions. Emails and chat apps don’t fulfill that need.
Misunderstandings can be confronted
Humans naturally assign meaning to any scenario, especially when it comes to emails and written chat conversations. Oftentimes these messages can be misinterpreted. If someone replies to your detailed email with a short answer, you may think they are upset or disagree with you when in reality they were busy and assumed a one-word reply was sufficient. Research shows that face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than those sent by email.
Less employee turnover
According to Forbes, 66% of employees would quit if they felt unappreciated. In-person meetings help employees feel seen and appreciated, but what about your remote team members? It’s easy for them to feel lonely and isolated, especially when most of their teammates work together in the same main office. Face-to-face video communication is a great way for them to feel included and connected to their team.
Face-to-face meetings tend to be more engaging and efficient. Gathering your entire team together for quick sync meetings and regularly scheduled face-to-face meetings is a great way to quickly get everyone on the same page and also a good way to promote team camaraderie. Instead of trying to explain an intricate project in an email and then spending hours fielding questions, you could host one face-to-face team meeting in which you present the project details and answer all questions at the same time.
5 Ways to Have Remote Team Meetings That Actually Works
According to inc.com, half of all meeting time is wasted. With a little bit of planning and structure, your team can have productive and engaging meetings.
1. Create an agenda
An effective team meeting agenda is one of the most important components of having a productive team meeting. Sending out the meeting agenda to everyone before the meeting sets the tone and focus for the meeting. This will give everyone an understanding of the topics that are being discussed and the goals for the meeting so no one comes to the meeting clueless. Make sure to include all points that will be discussed during the meeting, and don't forget to add in time for things like virtual team building activities, important team updates, and feedback.
2. Assign a leader
Designating a team meeting leader is a great way to keep the meeting on track. When topics get brought up that are not on the agenda, the team leader should give a gentle reminder to the group of the topics and goals of the meeting to keep the meeting moving forward and on point.
3. Find an optimal time
Stop holding meetings right before lunch, right after lunch, at 4:30 pm on any day and especially not on Friday. Pick a time when people will be the most attentive. Mornings and midafternoons are both great options. The single best time to schedule a meeting during the week is Tuesday at 2:30 pm according to a study done by Workfront.
4. Start and end on time
Newscientist.com found that half of all meetings start 10 minutes late. Sitting around and waiting for the person in charge to show up drains the energy from the room and starts the meeting off on the wrong foot. When employees know meetings will start and end on time, they are more likely to stay focused during the meeting and get decisions made by the end of the meeting.
5. End with an action
Leave the last few minutes of every meeting to quickly summarize what was discussed during the meeting and talk about next steps. Each meeting participant should know what their next action item is and the timeline for completing that task. After the meeting, send out meeting notes, responsibilities given and a follow-up plan to ensure everyone is on the same page.
The Final Puzzle Piece of Your Remote Team Meetings: Integrated Tech
Email and chat apps make communicating with team members quick and easy, but they are not very personal or engaging. A better way to connect and interact with your entire team is through face-to-face video conferencing.
Audio-only calls aren’t enough anymore. Employees need to meet face to face to reap the true benefits of team meetings. Video conference calls let you see your remote team members to truly understand them and build authentic relationships. Lifesize makes connecting over a video conference call easier than ever before. With a single click of a meeting invite link, your team members can join right from their browsers on their mobile phones, tablets or laptops without having to download an app.
Stop wasting the first 5-10 minutes of every meeting looking for the right dongle and then wasting additional time passing the dongle to the next presenter. Instead, use wireless screen sharing technology to optimize meeting efficiency. Lifesize Share™ makes it remarkably simple to present in meetings. Wirelessly share your screen in real time, play a video and control your presentation right from your mobile device or laptop.
Whiteboard sessions are great for brainstorming and collaborating with your entire team. They make content visually appealing and easier to absorb and retain. Lifesize Share with the Kaptivo whiteboard camera system lets you capture and share content from any standard whiteboard to everyone on a video conference call by removing people, reflections, glares and shadows from the whiteboard image. You get a clean and vibrant digital image of the whiteboard content that everyone on the call can view in real time.
Stop Canceling Team Meetings and Improve Them Instead
Many companies have replaced frequent staff meetings with informal chat conversations and lengthy email chains. While this type of communication has its place and time, it’s a poor substitute for team meetings. For better collaboration and higher productivity, try connecting with your team face to face. For teams with remote employees, a video conference call is a great way to create a collaborative and stimulating environment to ensure everyone on your team is being seen and heard while working together as one unit.