16 tried-and-tested tips on running productive meetings remotely

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ProductiveRemoteMeetings_200.jpgBy Michael Healy, Supply Chain Partner

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced companies to get creative about how they connect and meet with customers and teams.

Working with cloud applications allows us to workshop, design and configure systems remotely. With apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, working remotely can be easy and cost effective. But making it a positive and productive experience for everyone joining in does take some planning.

Here is a checklist from Supply Chain Partner to help you get the most out of your remote sessions:

1. Share your presentation or any supporting documentation in advance
Have everyone on the same page by sending out any presentations or supporting documents a few days before the meeting. This will allow people to give informed contributions during the session. And, should you have any difficulty sharing your presentation on the day via the application, your meeting can continue unhindered.

2. Decide who is running the session
If you are running a session with a colleague, decide who will be the host during the session. It is important that someone facilitates the discussion. This becomes more vital on a call where you cannot see everyone, to ensure that people do not talk over one another or check out of the conversation.

3. Start with an agenda and a goal for the session
As with all meetings, it helps to get everyone on the same page at the beginning so that you can facilitate meaningful discussions and make decisions.

4. Check that you have the application installed on the device that you are using
This may seem obvious, but take the time before your meeting starts to see to it that you have the software (and latest version) installed. Also remember to check that you are able to connect to your own meeting. Do not be unnerved by a last-minute need to download or update. Take the time to check that your meeting is ready and your audio connected and working.

5. Ensure that your Internet connection is stable
As the presenter or host, connect to a stable Wi-Fi, if available, or limit the number of people connected to your mobile data device. This will ensure that you will have the best connection speed possible.

6. Have an external speaker connected to your laptop for large rooms
Use an external speaker whenever possible when more than one person is in the room or if you do not have personal earphones. The sound is far superior on an external speaker than on a laptop. Jabra, Yealink and Konftel are all good options.

7. Use personal headsets rather than laptop microphones when connecting remotely
Your voice is much clearer to the other meeting attendees and headsets also tend to cut out distant sounds better.

8. Do not use video unless you are requested to do so
Although it is great to see each other, do not feel that you have to use video, especially if your connection is slow.

9. When using video, consider your background
What will people see in the background of your video share? Find an area in your home or office that is not cluttered or distracting (or embarrassing!) for those watching.

10. If you are struggling to connect, use the chat function
If your connection is unstable and keeps dropping, add a message in the chat to let the host know. You can give input via chat, if required.

11. Before you speak, introduce yourself
"Hi, it's Wendy, I have a question ..."

12. Listen before you speak
When you are late joining a meeting, first listen to the current conversation to determine whether there is space to announce your arrival. The application will probably let those already online know that you have joined without you having to say so. Better still, do not be late.

13. If you are not speaking, mute your microphone
Muting your microphone reduces the amount of background noise on a call which can be a distraction to others in the session. And, of course, when you do want to speak, remember to unmute yourself.

14. Think about what you are losing by running a remote session
When running a more technical session, such as discussing integration requirements with a customer, you tend to present little and whiteboard a lot. This may require you to adapt your presentation to suit the available screen-sharing options.

15. Focus on the meeting as if you are there in person
You can be tempted to check emails or check out altogether when dialling in remotely. Close any unnecessary applications, put your phone away and be present during the call.

16. Make time for questions and answers throughout the session
As the host, ensure that people are engaged and participating by building in opportunities for anyone to ask questions or comment on the discussion so far. People may feel uneasy about interrupting, so create the gap by asking "Are we all on track?" or "Anyone want to ask or add something before we move on?"

Remote meetings can be as, if not more, productive than meeting in person, but it does take some planning and being intentional about making it productive for all.

What is your team's biggest challenge when making the most of your meetings?

Supply Chain Partner

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