If we’re being honest – we’ve probably spent more time doing virtual calls and having video meetings in the past year that we’d have ever really liked to… The pandemic has completely transformed the way we communicate with one another, in both a business and social setting. With lockdown restrictions easing (yay!), the chance of normality resuming and face to face meetings being reintroduced is almost in our grasp. However, in the meantime – it looks like video calls and meetings are here to stay.

With that in mind, here’s some simple but really effective tips you can implement to ensure you’re getting the most out of your virtual meetings.

Have a clear structure and agenda

There’s no point having a video call that is essentially a free for all – it will descend into chaos! Making sure that a clear structure is embedded from the offset is the perfect way to avoid this happening. For a starting point – always have an agenda. And most importantly, stick to it! This will help guide the flow of the conversation and will also ensure that all aspects of the meeting are addressed.

Ahead of the call, get into the habit of splitting out agenda points amongst your team. This will help ensure that everyone has a clear idea of which points they need to discuss and can prepare in advance to do so. It also avoids the awkward talking over one another issue that can sometimes happen on virtual calls, as everyone will know what they’re responsible for and the order that the conversation will take place. Try to get into the habit of sharing this agenda with everyone on the call ahead of the meeting so that everyone knows exactly what to expect. In doing so, you’ll find your meetings are much more effective.

Ensure that your virtual meeting follows a clear structure

Ensure that your meeting has a clear purpose

We’re all inundated with multiple video calls on a daily basis, so making sure that each has a purpose and that the purpose is achieved is really crucial. In reality, if you had six or seven face-to-face meetings every day, you would be exhausted and overwhelmed! So, try to take this approach for video meetings as well. Make sure that everyone attending knows the purpose of the meeting and what it is aiming to achieve well in advance to allow every one to prepare and ensure that goal is met.

Also, think: could this be communicated simply and clearly via email? Then do so! A video call just for the sake of a video call isn’t necessary. Or perhaps the information would be better communicated between just two people via a phone call. Try to figure out what works best for the nature of the meeting. If a long presentation or creative idea is to be discussed, then of course this lends itself well to a video call. However, if the only thing to discuss is one simple point – maybe just an email will suffice. Ensuring that the purpose is outlined clearly for the meeting will help you pick the most appropriate platform and also ensure the aims are achieved.

Try not to let standards slip

The nature of virtual calls mean that they naturally don’t feel as formal as a face-to-face meeting does – however, this doesn’t mean that standards should slip. Yes, we know they can be a little awkward and you’ve probably heard the phrases: ‘you’re on mute’, ‘I can’t see your screen’ and ‘ooh the postman is just at the door’ more times in the past year than ever before! But, ensuring that the same standards are applied as you would for a meeting in the boardroom can be key to a successful meeting.

There are some really simple things you can do to keep those standards in place such as nominating a meeting manager. Their role will be to focus on managing the conversation and ensuring that each agenda point is addressed. Having an agenda and a clear purpose will also help make sure that standards don’t slip.

Try to apply the same standards to a virtual meeting that you would to a face-to-face one

Remember it’s okay to have a catch up

Working from home can be lonely. We’ve lost the atmosphere of our usually buzzing offices and with that means we no longer get to catch up and chat with colleagues as we used to. Video calls and meetings are a great way to help fill this void! Of course we’re not suggesting that you go off on a massive divergent and use the majority of the meeting for a gossip as this would be very unproductive – but, a quick catch up at the start or end of a meeting can be really good for morale.

Whether it’s a general ‘how are you’ chat, a discussion about upcoming plans now lockdown is easing or a natter about Netflix recommendations – sometimes it’s nice just to have a friendly chat! After all, we’re all human and we thrive of human contact which we’re often missing when working from home. So remember, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a catch up before or after your call agenda – it’s healthy and just generally adds a more positive spin to the meeting.

Embedding these tips into your virtual calls will help ensure that your meetings are effective and successful in meeting there objectives. Hopefully it won’t be too long until life as we used to know it, with face to face meetings, resumes!

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About Abbey Gray

Junior Account Manager at Prohibition PR. First class journalism graduate, passionate writer and novice baker! Based in Leeds.