How to run remote meetings efficiently

Topic submitted by Osayi via Workfrom Slack.

Hate to say it (because some people don’t like it), but using video helps to keep people engaged and discourages multitasking.

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So this isn’t an “efficiency” tip, per se, but as a remote employee, I really value having the meeting start a few minutes early to provide an opportunity for some chit-chat with other employees. That relationship-building time can really pay off in spades down the road.

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I agree on this one, my current team / company have an aversion to enabling video so that has the downside of

  1. Nobody knowing what anyone looks like, until we meet in person for our yearly team meeting and,
  2. Nobody really knowing if people are listening, or even sitting at their desk.

Use something like Zoom (video), and ask people to be fully present, or leave the meeting. I prefer video because then you can tell that people are really there. Video also helps realize when someone’s having audio issues, or is about to speak and possibly has some latency that would otherwise make things really awkward. Use headsets or some other way to ensure that everyone has good audio, and until you all become pros at it, it’s worth expecting a few minutes at the beginning to make sure everyone’s A/V is working properly.

Create a shared Google Doc (or something else that everyone can access easily) and set it up with the agenda ahead of time (you have an agenda, right? otherwise you just have a conversation, not a meeting!). Then use the shared document (which everyone should have write access to) to keep notes during the meeting. Highlight action points (and who’s responsible). Hold people accountable.

Beyond that, it’s just a meeting, so run it like you would any other meeting.

Consider focusing on effectiveness over efficiency. You actually want some inefficiency because that’s the space where rapport is built. What you want is effectiveness at team building, idea sharing, decision making, or whatever the meeting’s purpose is.

For effectiveness, most teams would do well just to start with the basics of effective meetings that are too often skipped in person. Have an agenda. Distribute reading material in advance and expect people to actually read it. Make the purpose and roles of participants clear.

And then add the remote things like use video, not rattling of papers, use headphones, mute when not speaking, leave room for network latency and unmuting between speaking, have speaker hand off protocols.

When running remote meetings, I think it is best to always have agendas in place, implementing video call etiquette and ending every meeting with a round of Q and As to recap what was discussed.

Here’s a nice blog (intended for employers) but employees can also benefit from: