While the restrictions of the pandemic are fading, virtual meetings are here to stay. We know some of you are itching to get back into the office, but some employees may opt to remain in a fully remote or hybrid work routine. However, your work week is structured, virtual meetings will likely remain an important part of your routine. While we have utilized these tools during the height of COVID-19 to collaborate with coworkers who we used to work besides, they also allow us to have “face to face” meetings with people from around the world. International business can be done without long flights, or the lack of visual communication provided by a phone call, people can attend virtual meetings anytime & anywhere. Workers have even reported that online conferences are more convenient and allow them to attend more meetings per day that were previously not feasible due to travel & monetary logistics.
We know that virtual meetings may not be the most comfortable platform for human interaction, so we have compiled some helpful tips to help you succeed at hosting or attending your next online event.

Choose the Right Platform for your Meeting

Zoom is a platform that has dominated the online meeting scene and is marketed as user friendly. In fact, saying you have a “Zoom” is synonymous with a “virtual meeting”. However, there is a wide array of virtual meeting platforms to choose from. When hosting a meeting, choose the right tool for your needs. Make a note of your needs so you can find a platform that will enable you to meet them.
For instance, will an audio conference suffice, or do you need to be able to see speakers, reactions, and material? How many people will attend? Do you need a feature that allows you to screen share documents to attendees? Do you need to record the meeting for future reference? Do meeting members need to have access to a chat feature which allows them to write comments or share material to all or specific meeting members?
Knowing what features you need will help you pick the right platform for your needs.

Test your Equipment

Functional equipment is essential to both the host and attendees. Poor Wi-Fi connection is a common threat to the success of your online gathering. Test your Wi-Fi to make sure you have a strong connection before your meeting begins. If you are facilitating the meeting, ensure the link or password to access the meeting works and everyone in attendance has access to this information.
Headphones and microphones are common accessories for online meeting participants. If you use these tools, make sure the cord hasn’t been chewed by your four-legged friend or the batteries are fully charged if your device is wireless. The last thing you want is to miss part of the meeting due to equipment malfunctions.
Understand the Agenda and Meeting Expectations
Feeling unprepared can make online meetings feel like a chore rather than an opportunity. It is the meeting facilitator's responsibility to set an agenda that provides an overview of key expectations, goals & tasks that will be covered during the meeting. A proper agenda will eliminate any confusion of what the meeting is about and help everyone come in with a similar mindset: to accomplish the outlined goals.
When the meeting has concluded, the facilitator should send an overview on what was accomplished to all attendees. This should include assigned tasks, due dates, and details on the next meeting.
In some instances, it may be beneficial to allow an anonymous survey to be filled out to receive feedback on the meeting. A form or a casual one-on-one with an attendee can provide insight on areas of improvement or encouragement on what went well.

Online Etiquette

Just like in person interactions, there are certain online etiquette practices that participants should follow.
The meeting facilitator should make sure to introduce everyone if the attendees are not familiar with each other. Ensure everyone has a chance to participate and feels comfortable speaking up when appropriate. Simply addressing a question to someone who has not had the opportunity to speak yet or asking if anyone has anything else to add is a simple, yet effective way to encourage participation. Put effort into creating a collaborative space that values everyone’s opinions and gives everyone a chance to voice their thoughts.
All attendees should make sure they give their full attention during an online meeting. Make sure any alerts that may come from your phone, computer or other devices are silenced. During
a meeting, give all of your attention to the speaker and refrain from checking your phone, email or work on non-meeting related tasks.
The best virtual meeting space is one free of distractions. If you are working from home, make sure other household members know not to disturb you for the duration of the meeting. Put your dog or cat in another room so they don’t make a surprise appearance. If you are at a public workspace, select an environment that is quiet and where people will not be walking in the background.
Wherever you are, make sure your mic does not pick up excessive background noise that would be distracting. It is polite to mute yourself when you are not speaking if there are several meeting members, one person is giving a presentation, or there is background noise you cannot avoid. Not only does this help everyone focus on the speaker, it also prevents you from surprising your fellow attendees during allergy season with a cough or sneeze.

Our Final Thoughts

We know online meetings are an adjustment, but they open up our businesses to a whole new world of possibility. If you are in need of a shift in your work routine, let us help! Paradigm Workhub has everything you need to succeed in your professional endeavors. Rent one of our private offices and relax knowing your kiddos aren’t going to burst at any moment. Hosting your next meeting? Paradigm Workhub has a Virtual Meeting Room that allows you to host 100 people on our Polycom system. Perhaps you are looking for an in-person meeting venue? We have that too! Give our office a call at (678) 804-9845 and we can assist you with all your online and in-person meetings.
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