The beauty of videoconferencing is that it allows you to see how others are reacting in a meeting that might have previously been conducted with audio technology. Video conferencing is almost as good as being there — except not. Yes, video technology can be helpful for managers who are holding one-on-one meetings with team members. If you’re trying to run a larger meeting with videoconferencing tools, you need to master a few rules of engagement.
In a video conference, some meeting participants may be physically present, while others are dialing in from remote locations. The remote team members will have to work much harder to understand what’s going on in the room. As we all know, some communication is verbal. But other communication, such as attitude and mood, is often transmitted non-verbally. Dr. Nick Morgan, a communication theorist, shared a few suggestions recently on publicwords.com regarding how to maximize the potential of video conferencing.
Morgan suggests appointing someone as a meeting referee. This person’s job is to make sure that everyone participates in the meeting. In real life, it’s easy to notice the individual who’s sitting at the table, but not contributing. In a virtual session, it’s easy to overlook that someone might have a question or want to make a point. Depending on the type of technology being used, the MC could monitor a channel that is set up for attendees to submit questions in writing. This strategy works well when remote attendees may be hesitant to interrupt a presentation.
You should start any meeting or conference with a statement of intent. Team members want to know why they’re present, what they should contribute, and what they should get out of the meeting. Understanding intent can reduce confusion on the part of remote meeting attendees.
If part of your virtual meeting includes a presentation, take a few minutes at the outset to be sure remote attendees can see your slides. Because technology is imperfect, pause every few minutes, and ask remote attendees if they’re following along or if they need to see a specific slide again.
At the end of a session, circle back to meeting intent. Ask everyone if they understand the objectives and any assignments that have been made. Encourage attendees, including remote participants, to repeat what they believe has been agreed to. In some cases, you’ll be surprised at the extent of confusion.
Careful planning and regular communication between all participants during videoconferences will improve the outcome of these meetings. Your attention to these matters will also help your remote attendees feel like they are part of the team.