The onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many organisations to adopt remote work, and for many, the sudden transition has been anything but smooth.
Do you find yourself planning 30-minute remote meetings only to find you’re still there after an hour receiving questions you already addressed in the previous one? If so, you’re not alone.
So, in today’s blog post, we’re going to share some proven tips for helping you make remote meetings better than ever:
#1. Understand the purpose of the meeting
Business meetings broadly fall into two main categories – organisational and problem-solving. The biggest problem is when there’s no clear distinction between the two. For example, an organisational meeting should focus on organising responsibilities between teams and sharing insights on project progress. The problem occurs when such meetings end up slipping into problem-solving discussions between two people. Meanwhile, the rest of the team feels like their presence is irrelevant, and they end up wasting valuable time.
When it comes to project management, it’s best to hold organisational meetings weekly, and everyone working on the project should be involved. Problem-solving meetings, by contrast, usually need to occur with limited notice, and should only ever involve those who are actually working on the problematic task.
#2. Use a project management tool
Just like face-to-face meetings, remote meetings require proper planning. Unless everyone has access to the necessary information and the topics to be addressed during the call, it will be near impossible to stay on topic. Sure, you can send out emails outlining the meeting well in advance, but emails have a habit of going unread or their content being forgotten about.
With a project-management tool, everyone on the team has easy access to key information, such as which tasks still need to be completed, and which of them are the most important. If all team members use your project-management app to keep on top of tasks, they’ll have a convenient and immediately accessible informational resource before and during the meeting. This will help streamline the process and keep your meetings on the right course.
#3. Create reports and track key metrics
Everyone involved should have a thorough understanding of what the meeting is meant to achieve. The challenge lies in measuring achievement and determining whether a meeting is successful in helping it accomplish its goals.
For example, the Kanban project-management methodology speaks of so-called cadences, which refer to a network of meetings fostering conversations throughout every necessary level of a project or organisation. Such meetings are defined by key metrics for what they set out to achieve. Then, each meeting is followed up by a report, which is shared with all team members so everyone’s on the same page. Any robust project-management tool should provide some level of reporting functionality to help you quantify success and streamline information-sharing.
#4. Set up operational projects
We’ve already touched on how meetings of different types tend to blur when there’s a lack of proper preparation. For example, problem-solving meetings connected with the needs of your clients might end up deviating into operational topics. Without the necessary planning, an important meeting about a client-related project might end up going into internal issues, such as organising the next team-building event or even buying a new coffee maker.
Naturally, your clients should always be your top priority, but your ability to serve their needs also depends on the inner workings of your organisation. That’s why it’s a good idea to set up a separate operational project for discussing tasks which aren’t directly related to client work. You can address these in, say, the final ten minutes of your meeting, or even have separate meetings entirely. Again, with everything written down in a cloud-based project-management tool, people can connect remotely while having instant access to the information they need.
#5. Moderate your meetings
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing remote meetings is the fact that they’re inherently harder to moderate, hence the difficulty of keeping things on topic. When you’re all physically in the same room, visual cues make it clear who’s holding the floor and whose turn it is to speak. In remote meetings, this is much harder. Even if you’re using video conferencing, things can get confusing when you have dozens of participants all represented by tiny thumbnail videos.
As a leader, you’re responsible for moderating the meeting, and that’s perhaps the hardest task of all. You need to cut people off fairly but firmly if they’re slipping too far off-topic. At the same time, that person might have an important, albeit off-topic, suggestion, so it’s a good idea to note it down instead. Fortunately, proper planning, which should ideally include having a timetable for your meeting, should minimise any need for in-meeting moderation.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Understand and explain the purpose of the meeting
- Streamline information-sharing with a project-management tool
- Identify your goals and the key metrics for tracking them
- Set up operational projects for internal tasks
- Moderate your meetings to keep them on-topic.
LogicalPlan is a project-management tool that lets you visualise your workflows and keep all team members on the same page during remote meetings. Try it for free today.