If your team needs to connect remotely, you'll need to change your approach to make sure you get people's attention, that everything gets done and no one feels left out.
Use your voice to help guide the flow of the conversation. In person, discussions unfold naturally. You look at someone and they feel compelled to talk. In remote meetings, nobody knows what you are seeing. Therefore, you need to use your voice more than you might be used to in order to prompt Lauerer (e.g. "Pete, what do you think of this?"). ), discourage dominators (e.g., "Thanks for that, Natacha. Who has other thoughts?") or play the role of traffic cop when several people want to speak (e.g., "Ayanna, you first. Then Lloyd." ).
Ask for feedback to make sure the discussion meets the needs of the participants. Some well-placed questions like, “Is this discussion helpful? Should we spend more time doing it or keep going? “Or“ It seems like we're wandering and it's time to move on. Does that sound okay? ”Can make the difference between getting things done or half the group getting bored and switching off.
Wait a few seconds for people to speak. Remote communication can be a fraction of a second slower than personal communication. You may be waiting for others to jump in first or fumble to unmute.
Tell the group what non-verbal cues you see. This will help everyone understand people's moods and reactions (e.g., "I see Maurice nod" or "Viv, you look like you have a thought about it – are you concerned?"). Also being in the same place can help remotes understand what is going on in the room (e.g., "Everyone is laughing because I can't open my drink").
Start with a sound check. By asking everyone to say hello to test their microphones and volume, you won't have to interrupt the conversation with "We can't hear you" later. Note: If there are multiple attendees around a single microphone, double-check that they are all close enough for distant attendees to hear – almost certainly someone will have to huddle closer.
If possible, ask participants to turn on their cameras. Not only will you pick up on facial gestures and other important non-verbal communications, but you'll also add a touch of humanity, especially for those who spend their days at home in isolation. Meanwhile, comment on your own and others' surroundings to warm up the interaction – art on the walls, the bookshelf in the background, cute pets, etc. And for meetings with a mix of distant and co-located participants, ask roommates to use their laptops bring along and join individually via video (no sound) so that all faces on the screen are the same.
Ask those with questionable internet connections to call their phones (and mute the computer audio) as well. By separating the video and audio feeds, you can hear a person's point even if their face is frozen on the screen in the middle of a sentence.
Ask attendees to mute them unless they are speaking. This is particularly helpful in large meetings or when some participants are in public space. For smaller meetings, keep the microphones on so attendees can pick up the verbal cues “Aah” and “Mm-hmm” of what others think and feel in response to the person speaking.
If possible, share your screen and use visuals to keep people involved. Prepare and open them in advance to avoid sitting on your desktop for 30 seconds or waiting for a website to load. Enlarge the graphic to full screen, especially if you notice participants leaning over and blinking. Avoid whiteboards when there are several participants in the same location. Remote controls cannot see them even if someone tries to position a laptop for better visibility. Use a shared document or Visual collaboration software instead.
Encourage attendees to use the chat feature for side effects. Since only one person can speak at a time in remote meetings, chat can be a great way for someone to share small details without interrupting the speaker (e.g., "I have to leave five minutes early to call a customer"). Precaution: Don't let chat become a substitute for distant participants to express their opinions. If you notice an important point in the chat, prompt the person (e.g., "Cheryl, you just made an important point in the chat – can you expand on that?").
Have a detailed agenda. Virtual meeting agendas are especially important. When a conversation wanders, people's attention gets too – after all, you are competing with their inbox and their news and social media feeds. If you can't create a solid agenda for an ongoing meeting, check with attendees if you even need to meet. If you can cancel, you'll save time (and make friends).
Only invite those who really need to be there. If in doubt, ask attendees in advance whether they would like to attend or make their meeting invitations optional. If you have agenda topics that are only relevant to a few attendees, put the agenda items first for the whole group so attendees can descend if they want when the topic changes.
Plan a structure for exploratory meetings. It is possible to have creative and collaborative discussions remotely. Just tell people how to help and give them time to prepare (e.g. design the problem beforehand and ask everyone to come up with three ideas to share and discuss). Also, plan how you will share and organize ideas, be it through a simple online document or Visual collaboration software.
Assign meeting roles. People are more likely to stay engaged when they have a specific responsibility, whether it's keeping time, taking group notes, leading an agenda item, or being designated dissident to prevent the group from sluggishly following an idea.
This article was originally published on Jhana. Reprinted with permission.