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How to run virtual meetings like a pro

As we all know, traditional meetings in the office have changed, with virtual meetings now a standard part of the average working day. However virtual meetings can pose a few challenges, leaving attendees feeling frustrated and even unproductive.
Here are our top six tips on how to run a successful virtual meeting.

1. Connection, connection, connection!

Regardless of the meeting and collaboration platform you’re using, communication issues caused by poor connectivity is the fastest way to disengage your attendees. In the office you most likely have high bandwidth leased lines to power your connectivity – and if you’re like us, you probably have backup leased lines as well. But a lot of us aren’t at the office right now, and while some of us enjoy fast fibre at home, plenty of people are still using older copper services. Even if you have a FTTC connection, you might have other people in your home trying to run their own meetings (or doing school homework online).
There’s only so much you can do here, but make sure your router’s on the latest available firmware and try to schedule your meetings carefully to avoid lots of simultaneous bandwidth utilisation. Most importantly, if like most people you’re using WiFi, don’t stray too far from your router.

2. Prepare your equipment, and check it

If the beginning of the call is spent being distracted by equipment malfunctioning, that gives ample time for attendees to mentally check out before the meeting even begins. It’s a good idea to check your kit and test it, and when it comes to things like headsets, do your homework. Those old pair of iPhone headphones you can’t use any more since Apple cast out the 3.5mm jack probably aren’t your best option for running an online meeting, and there are some great ‘made for purpose’ headsets out there that are very affordable. Our teams seem to favour headsets from Jabra for their reliability, comfort, and cost.

3. The right tools for the right meetings

We love CallSwitch because it’s our product, but there’s more to it than that. It’s about the overall tech stack you employ and, as strange as it might sound, the type of meeting you’re holding.
For our team meetings everyone naturally uses CallSwitch because it manages everything for us – video, voice, messaging, presence, screen sharing, etc. But if you might be a Microsoft Teams house, which is equally fine (though you might want to ask us about Direct Routing for Teams)!  There’s another element to this, which is the audience. For example, one of our Directors volunteers at a school, who have stringent restrictions when it comes to installing software that can make ad-hoc video meetings tricky.
To overcome situations like this, we developed CallSwitch Meet, a video conferencing platform that runs in a web browser with no installation required. It’s ideal because it avoids those situations where people run into issues installing software locally.
CallSwitch meet is available to download on iOS and Android for free.

4. Setting and communicating clear objectives

Asking participants to stay and listen to calls without a clear plan is not an efficient way to use their time or run a meeting.  Keep things on track by having a clear objective for your meeting, setting a plan, and sharing it with attendees before the meeting. This is nothing new – we’ve all faced the same challenge in face-to-face meetings, but it’s even more important with virtual meetings because everyone is in a different physical environment, with more potential distractions around them. And when it comes to sharing agendas before the meeting, the further in advance the better. If you circulate the agenda five minutes before the meeting it’s unlikely the attendees will have the opportunity to read it, let alone digest it and bring coherent thoughts and commentary to the meeting itself.
Agendas should detail any technical requirements for the meeting (and should also be in calendar invites). This means any participant details, logins, and additional instructions. You should seek to give attendees the same opportunity to prepare for the meeting as you do.

5. Always have video on

Put a face to the voice by adopting ‘video-on’ as standard. Facial expressions humanise virtual meetings, so using video in virtual is essential to effective communication. And when people are on camera, there’s less room for distraction, such as checking phones.

6. Stick to your timings

Sticking to a meeting time frame is essential. As with many meetings, it’s easy to get distracted and have a 30-minute virtual meeting turn into a 1-hour catch-up session, and we see this happening more often given that people aren’t together in offices.  This ties back to the agenda, and ensuring you ‘own’ the meeting, acting as the adjudicator that keeps everyone on topic.

Run virtual meetings like a pro

Virtual meetings can be just as productive as face-to-face ones, and by using some of these tips, you’ll reap the benefits of your next virtual meeting.
And if you’re looking for a platform to run your virtual meetings, we’d love to talk to you (probably over a video call!!) about how TelcoSwitch can help.