Have a good technical set up
Being the single remote participant in a meeting where discussion happens across the table in a big meeting room, is a horrible experience. Especially because you need a very good camera and microphone setup to relay audio and body language from everyone in the room. If you don’t have a good cam/mic setup in your meeting room, it may be better that everyone joins remotely to make all participants feel equal. If your network can handle it, consider having everyone sitting at their desk or in separate locations if you need to have an important discussion when someone is remote. Use an ethernet cable if available, to eliminate any network issues (usually poor WiFi causes the majority of quality problems).
Set aside time for small talk
Welcome everyone on a personal basis when they join the meeting. Being met with a “Nice to see you John!” or “Good morning Ashley!” makes people happy and sets a good mood for the meeting. If your team is permanently remote, set aside some slack in the beginning of the meeting for small talk, it’s important to keep the personal relationships alive.
Have an agenda and keep time
To ensure that you achieve the purpose of the meeting, set an agenda and share with invited participants in advance, so they get a chance to prepare and bring good thoughts into the discussion. Start the meeting by recapping the agenda and how much time you want to spend, and revisit this throughout the meeting to stick to the time allotted. People often have back-to-back video meetings, so clarify if anyone has a hard stop at the scheduled end time and if so, wrap up the discussion a few minutes in advance of that.
Engage people and manage speakers
As the meeting leader, it’s your job to actively engage everyone. Not everyone will jump out of their chair to participate, but it’s not always the people who talk the loudest who have the right answers. Think through what you want different people to contribute with, and make sure to pull them into the discussion. Manage speakers by having people raise their hands and note the order. At the start of the meeting, encourage people to ask questions or give feedback. In Whereby, we have reaction emojis that let people react to what’s being said without interrupting the speaker.
Don’t multitask while being in meetings, it makes other people less engaged too. When talking, look directly into the camera to make people feel like you’re talking to them. If you’re talking notes, it may be polite to say so, so people know what you are doing.
Use screen sharing or collaborative tools
Sometimes you may want to do work together in meetings, and there are now great possibilities for doing this. Several tools allow real-time collaborative editing, such as:
In Whereby you can open Google Docs and Trello boards embedded, so everyone in the video meeting can work on them at the same time.
Assign tasks and make it easy for people to follow up
End the meeting with making sure everyone knows what you agreed on, document any decisions made (e.g. in shared meetings notes or a summary email) and assign tasks if further action is decided. To make it easy to follow up, use a task management tool like Trello. They allow the whole team to see what is being worked on and track progress.
-Ingrid Odegaard, Co-founder / Chief Product & Technology Ofice