How to Have a Productive Virtual Meeting

Posted on: April 29, 2020

While our clients in the construction, power generation and transportation industries are still at work, the majority of management and front office staff have transitioned to working from home in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Things are no different here at the Carolina Cat® headquarters. As a result, we’ve been relying heavily on virtual meetings for the behind-the-scenes work necessary for continuing to deliver great service. Here’s how we keep things productive.

Do a Tech Check Beforehand

Nothing derails a productive virtual meeting faster than technical problems. Setting aside five minutes before the meeting to make sure everything works correctly can help you avoid any issues when it’s time to get down to business.

Share Information in Advance

To make sure your meeting stays productive, share materials for participants to review ahead of time. That way, you’ll spend less time reading documents and playing catch-up and more time focused on actionable planning. Let team members know what you hope to achieve by the end of the meeting.

Keep Things On-Topic

There’s no denying that more distractions tend to come up at home than they do at a designated work site. You want to make sure participants come prepared, but you also need to make sure they stay on topic. Create an agenda and stick to it — and remember, following this tip may require a firm hand if the conversation gets sidetracked.

Expect Interruptions

That said, it’s important to distinguish between digressions and interruptions. Many people are balancing full-time work and childcare, or sharing their home office with others who are also trying to get things done. Don’t make a participant feel bad or embarrassed if they need to jump off a call suddenly to tend to a crying baby, for example.

Reach out to Non-Talkers

In a successful team, everyone’s input is valuable. Recognize that some of your coworkers are intimidated by video chat and may be keeping a great idea bottled up as a result. If someone isn’t participating, reach out and give them time to respond in case they have something to add.

Separate Work Time From Social Time

With so many of us stuck at home, there’s a tendency to use business meetings to catch up, joke around and otherwise connect with our coworkers. Unfortunately, when that happens, productivity suffers. Holding weekly team lunches and other virtual social events will keep your team connected and reduce the risk of an important meeting going off the rails.

The Bottom Line on Virtual Meetings

Everyone is trying to navigate this “new normal,” and not every meeting will go the way you planned it. A good team leader will need to continually refine their practices and learn from past mistakes as we all get more comfortable working remotely. As long as you’re doing that, you and your team will make it through just fine.