The business world is getting used to some aspects of remote work, but the virtual team meeting is still a bit awkward. Managers do their best to create a consistent experience, integrating a Zoom office background with company logo. Still, no matter how hard they try, there is no getting past the physical distance between team members.
Overcoming the awkwardness of remote meetings is challenging but not impossible. Managers and companies can do many things to improve the virtual experience, making it more comfortable.
1. Start With an Icebreaker
In-person meetings rarely experience the same level of uncomfortable silence that remote sessions do. Much of the change results from not knowing how to act in a virtual setting. Also, in-person meetings were more personable.
With virtual meetings, participants see themselves and are overwhelmingly aware when attention moves to them. The changing of the camera or speaker-view can feel jolting; for many, the distraction of looking at themselves is too much.
In-person meetings were often more casual and friendly. People were comfortable around each other. With distance, the comfort dissipates. Therefore, try starting every meeting with an icebreaker to loosen up dialogue and ease participants into the setting.
2. Encourage Team Engagement
Despite everyone’s face being on a monitor, hiding in a virtual meeting is easy. You can mute yourself, work on other tasks, and ignore the discussion.
To avoid distraction and increase participation, managers can encourage engagement and participation. For example, have your team brainstorm solutions to problems, or ask for project updates from each person in the meeting.
You can also create a unified environment using a Zoom immersive view background download. Some people like the feeling a shared background provides; it makes it easier to imagine being part of a team.
3. Cut Time
Productive team meetings do not need to go on for hours. The longer you keep team members in a meeting, the more likely they will get bored and distracted.
Try to keep meetings short. A 15 to 20-minute meeting is usually better than an hour-long meeting. Obviously, the session length will depend on what needs to be discussed, but you should try to break a meeting into several parts if it requires over one hour.
4. Keep Group Size Small
As a manager, the best way to keep a group involved in the meeting is to keep track of all participants. Meetings with 12 or more participants are challenging to manage.
If possible, the ideal size of a meeting group is 12 people or fewer. The more people you have on a Zoom call, the more likely they will multi-task during the meeting or lose focus.
5. Set Ground Rules
Every manager needs to set meeting ground rules. The rules should cover various points, including:
- Google Meet virtual background
- Participation guidelines
The specifics of the meeting may vary, but the ground rules should remain. You want every team member to know how to behave in a meeting and what is expected.
Virtual meetings are becoming the norm. Companies need to get on board with the trend and learn how to bring their teams into the fold. If you are unsure how to host a virtual meeting or maintain control of it, consider talking with a virtual integration specialist in your area.