Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a meeting where the focus was derailed by a small distraction or faux pas made by a meeting member. I assume everyone reading this is raising their hands. Meetings can run awry at the slightest provocation, and when you are managing meetings in the virtual realm, the margin for awkward errors increases. Familiarize yourself with the fatal flaws of virtual meetings (and how to avoid them) and you can guarantee that your future meetings run as smoothly as possible.
Fatal Flaw #1: You Don’t Have a Backup Plan
We all know how fickle technology can be, and virtual meetings rely far more heavily on technology than in-person meetings. If your technology fails during a virtual meeting, it can completely derail your meeting’s purpose and leave participants in a sour mood when the meeting runs longer than budgeted.
Though you can’t anticipate technical failure, you can have a backup plan. Before the meeting begins, let your participants know what Plan B is in the case of a technological blunder. That way, if things go south, everyone will know exactly what to do so the meeting can get back on track in no time.
Fatal Flaw #2: Not Engaging Your Audience
One of the biggest challenges of virtual meetings derives from the inability to see the other participants. Body language is crucial for interpreting whether or not your audience is engaged, and it’s important to come up with a way to compensate for that lack of physical engagement in a virtual meeting.
Go out of your way to address individuals by name and ask specific questions. Ask for feedback from meeting participants who have been quiet. By verbally engaging your meeting participants, you can ensure that everyone feels included, and, more importantly, you can make sure that your meeting participants aren’t paying more attention to their Twitter feeds than they are to you.
Fatal Flaw #3: Misunderstanding Runs Amok
Social cues are a vital part of effective communication. The distinct lack of social cues in a virtual meeting can easily lead to unclear communication and hamper productivity. Part of the problem is that the lack of eye contact in a virtual meeting can make it difficult to tell who is being addressed by the speaker and/or who is supposed to respond to a query.
To cut down on the confusion, spend a few minutes at the start of your meeting checking in with everyone. This will allow meeting participants to match names to voices, which will help cut down on confusion later. Encourage your participants to address each other by name when speaking, as that will also help clarify who should speak next.
Fatal Flaw #4: Letting Background Noise Drown Out Your Meeting
There is nothing worse than having your well-planned meeting overtaken by the distracting background noises of a colleague who forgot to hit their ‘mute’ button. Choosing between awkwardly calling out the noise-maker or suffering through the noisiness can be a tough call. Perhaps it’s better to not have to choose.
By investing in the proper virtual meeting solution, you don’t have to worry about noisy meeting distractions ever again. Quality virtual meeting software has features to overcome meeting inconveniences, with products like iMeet® giving you the option to mute both yourself and others in your meeting if they are unknowingly making distracting noises or creating feedback.
Fatal Flaw #5: Paying No Mind to Time Zones
Virtual meetings are an incredible asset for remote workers and managers who seek to overcome the obstacle of physical distance. Virtual meetings allow geographically-disparate people to collaborate and work together. However, the intimacy enabled by technology makes it easy to forget that others aren’t, in fact, in the same place as you.
When planning your virtual meetings, be mindful of the various time zones of your meeting participants. A time that works for you might be woefully inconvenient for someone in a different time zone; if you are forcing your meeting participants to meet late at night or early in the morning, chances are, they aren’t going to be very engaged in what you have to say.
Preparation is key to running productive, engaging meetings. Don’t let your hard work be for naught; avoid these fatal flaws of virtual meetings and ensure that every meeting you run is an instant success. Make sure your next virtual meeting is a success, try iMeet, free for 30 days.