Practical and Proven Tips for Communicating Effectively in Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings have increased dramatically in the last two years and are now an essential part of remote or hybrid working practices. But do we use virtual meetings as well as we can to get the best out of them?
Check out some of these helpful tips for improving and maintaining effective communication to help make your meetings online more productive and meaningful.
Acknowledge everyone in the meeting
Virtual meetings enable people to attend as they don't require travel. It is important to acknowledge everyone, especially if cameras are off.
If you have a smaller meeting, start by sharing introductions or ask people to introduce themselves with some info they are happy to share. Some examples include the last concert they attended or the last book they read.
A few minutes for introductions and some casual talk (when appropriate) helps make meetings feel more personalized and inclusive.
Related: What a Pandemic Taught Us About How We Communicate — and How We Can Improve
Turn video cameras on or off
There are some large meetings or webinars where cameras are deliberately kept off to avoid bandwidth overload. Having video cameras switched on in smaller sessions is often easier and conducive for effective communication.
Cameras help participants convey body language and non-verbal cues that help people stay focused and engaged. When cameras are switched off, it is tempting to multi-task, such as scrolling through emails which means people are not focused on the meeting content.
Anyone who has been using virtual meetings regularly will be used to seeing messy kitchens and pets jumping on laps. It can be amusing, but it is also distracting, especially if you have a formal meeting.
Many interviews are conducted virtually now, so consider your professional image when speaking online. Use a blurred background or green screen to reduce distractions. The mute button cuts out interruptions and background noise.
Related: The 3 Communication Skills That Are Most Important to Your Career Today
Have purpose and summarize
Virtual meetings are convenient, but it's easy to lose focus or forget to follow up on actions.
At the beginning of the meeting, ensure everyone is clear on the meeting's purpose and why it's important. Then, summarize the main steps from each topic.
At the end of the meeting, communicating action items and next steps helps ensure that projects maintain momentum and people feel engaged.
Take a break
Have you noticed that when you attended face-to-face meetings, there was a break to allow you to travel between events? Today, virtual meetings can get crammed into electronic diaries, meaning there's no time for a break.
Taking too few breaks is often unhealthy and results in a lack of focus at subsequent meetings. Keep your appointments brief and finish at 50 minutes instead of an hour. Gaps between meetings allow folks take a quick break and move around or get a drink of water before the next meeting, so they arrive feeling refreshed and focused.
Reflect on your communication skills
When you lead or participate in a virtual meeting, it is not always obvious where any opportunities for improvement in communication skills are.
Having a digital communication coach can help identify areas in your communication where you are strong or where you can improve, and as a result, make your meetings even more productive. In addition, you'll discover tips and pointers on verbal and non-verbal communication that will help in your career goals and professional life.
Related: 7 Common Communication Goals and How to Achieve Them in 2022
As organizations everywhere settle into remote or hybrid work norms, there's no doubt that virtual meetings will continue to be crucial for teams to communicate and collaborate effectively. What are some of your favorite tips or insights for communicating effectively in virtual meetings? Share with us on Twitter @poisedhq!
Improve your communication in real time during online meetings. Poised is a digital communication coach that gives you real-time and personalized feedback for communication skills like clarity, confidence, and energy. Join the waitlist here.