A complete guide to virtual meetings and how they can improve productivity

In today’s fast-paced world, where companies are spread ’round the globe and everyone seems always to be ‘on-call’, meeting face to face isn’t always practical.

Whether it’s a new project, a client call, or just a quick update, being able to communicate quickly and efficiently is more important than ever.

Enter — virtual meetings! 

In 2020, Zoom crossed 350 million daily meeting participants. That’s massive!

The COVID-19 pandemic also saw Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and Facebook investing heavily into their virtual conferencing platforms.

What is a virtual meeting?

A virtual meeting allows people from anywhere in the world to communicate and connect virtually via video or audio conferencing, webinars, or phones to share information and collaborate on projects. 

As the term ‘virtual’ suggests, it’s a meeting that takes place online rather than in person. It helps keep businesses connected, saves time, and reduces travel costs.

Types of Virtual Meetings

Video Conferences

This allows users to see each other, talk face to face, share screens, communicate via chat tools, break into groups, and interact with one another remotely using their webcam, microphone, and an internet connection.

You can set up a video conference with just the click of a button using tools such as Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. The average number of participants can range from two to a hundred. However, it’s preferable to keep the attendees to a minimum to encourage better communication. 

Audio Conferences

This allows people to listen and speak to each other remotely online. GlobalMeet Collaboration, Workplace from Meta, Voximplant are among the best free audio-conferencing tools in 2022, according to G2

Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces are other platforms contributing to the audio revolution. 

Webinars

A webinar is like a live event, but instead of being held in a physical location, it’s presented online through streaming software. Participants can watch the presentation on any device, including computers, tablets, smartphones, and smart TVs. 

Demio, Airmeet, LiveStorm, and GetResponse are commonly used webinar platforms. 

How can you keep your remote employees engaged through virtual meetings?

It’s a common problem for remote teams: how do you keep your team engaged when they can’t see each other in person?

The answer is simple. You need to create online meetings that are just as engaging and productive as face-to-face ones but without the hassle of travel.

Here are five ways to do that: 

1. Create an Agenda

An agenda helps to keep the conversation focused and structured. It should include action items that are relevant to the topic at hand.

For example, if you want to discuss a project update, consider including:

  • What happened since the previous meeting?
  • Who attended?
  • What were the main points?
  • What action steps remain?

2. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

When planning a virtual meeting, don’t try to cram too much into one hour. Instead, aim for quality over quantity.

This means focusing on the most critical issues first, then addressing less important matters later.

3. Be Transparent and Set Expectations

Be open and honest with your team members about why you’re holding a virtual meeting. Explain the purpose of the discussion and what it will cover.

Also, explain the meeting format (e.g., time limit, schedule) and how you plan to handle sensitive information.

4. Ask Questions

Ask questions throughout the meeting to get more insight from participants — especially open-ended ones! These questions could include:

  • What do you feel about this agenda item?
  • What would you like to learn more about?
  • What additional resources would help us move forward?

5. Give Praise and Feedback

Give positive reinforcement where appropriate. When someone does something well, acknowledge their efforts.

The benefits of virtual meetings that you can’t ignore

1. Cuts down on expenses

Virtual meetings save money by eliminating the need for employees to travel to meet clients, partners, and suppliers. 

It avoids the allied costs of travel — hotel rooms, food, and gas. This also means lesser carbon emissions, which is good for the environment. 

There’s also no need to set up conference rooms, hire a moderator, or pay for catering.

A typical conference room runs between $100-$300 per hour.

This can quickly add up!

2. They’re More Flexible and Convenient

You don’t have to leave your office or even your home to meet with someone virtually.

This means that you can conduct a meeting anywhere, making scheduling with colleagues across the state or country easier.

How can virtual meetings improve productivity?

From saving money to reducing travel costs, from improving employee morale to promoting team building, it’s clear that virtual meetings have become an essential part of our daily lives.

They also boost productivity in a wide range of ways. These include:

  • It helps enhance communication and collaboration between remote teams and enables them to effectively work together.
  • It can provide a more informal setting for employees to get work done.
  • It reduces travel costs and enables more efficient scheduling.
  • Anyone can join in from virtually any place with just an internet connection. You don’t have to worry about getting lost, missing an appointment, or being late compared to physical meetings.
  • If you’re running a webinar, you’re able to host hundreds of people simultaneously.
  • Virtual meetings reduce distractions and interruptions, allowing teams to complete more work. 
  • It ensures that everyone is on the same page and promotes transparency.
  • It enables companies to make quick and better decisions as needed.
  • It provides a cost-effective way to conduct training sessions.
  • It fosters relationships among colleagues who may never meet face-to-face. 
  • With video conferencing technology and online collaboration tools, you can hold multiple meetings and conferences simultaneously. 

To conclude, in today’s rapidly advancing business world, regular meetings are vital to keeping things running smoothly. As the tide shifts towards remote work, virtual meetings are here to stay. 

But it’s always important to remember — if a meeting can be an email, send the email! 

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