Virtual meetings are becoming more acceptable. Ever since countries started locking down their borders due to the threat of covid19, companies have had to embrace the idea of conducting their operations digitally. Virtual meetings are now the order of the day, and we have many innovative tools rising to meet this demand. Whether you want to hold a team meeting, pitch a customer, conduct a demo, host a training session, or even run an industry conference, an AI-led tool like Aira is a worthwhile asset to have.
Why virtual meetings?
It is undeniable that face to face meetings introduce the human touch to doing business. Virtual meetings have been evolving towards providing the same experience, and this is evidenced by:
- The role of AI in gradually propelling virtual meetings towards the same experience you would get in face to face meetings
- Tools for holding meetings are becoming more advanced; more intuitive
As such, technology is taking over the bulk of the work involved in meeting management. For instance, Aira will attend meetings for you, take meeting notes and email them. In addition, because of Aira’s integrative ability with your CRM, your meeting discussions, files, minutes and action points, become part of your entire team’s workflow.
Benefits of holding virtual meetings include:
- Virtual meetings are inexpensive because they eliminate the cost of travel
- You save time and energy whenever you hold your meetings virtually because you don’t need to go anywhere. Time spent on the road or up in the air, is then allocated to activities that have more strategic importance.
- There is also the added comfort of a virtual meeting; you can hold one from anywhere. In other words, when you go virtual, you give your team the freedom to work from anywhere.
How can you run a great virtual meeting?
Running a successful virtual meeting requires some preparation before, during and after the meeting.
1. Ensure video works
When choosing your conferencing tools, ensure you get one that offers an excellent video experience. Video increases engagement and interaction because participants can observe each other’s responses to discussions. Video also tells you when people start to lose attention. You can then respond appropriately, by for instance calling for a break.
2. Send the meeting agenda in advance
This gives your team time to process what the meeting will mean to them. Participants will also:
- Think ahead
- Come up with ideas
Note: Before you send a meeting agenda, you need to choose a date that guarantees maximum attendance. As much as a tool like Aira can attend a meeting and send minutes of meeting when a participant is absent, having everyone “present” creates more engagement.
3. Set the meeting tone
Do you want people to respect your meetings and take them seriously? Then set the tone. An agenda is one way to do it, but also drumming up support for key areas of discussion helps people anticipate real value coming out of the meeting.
4. Minimize the number of meetings you hold
A great thing about sending out agenda items is that they help you gauge whether you even need a meeting in the first place. When your team and clients see the meeting agenda, they will comment and based on those comments, you can take the requisite actions.
There is no need to hold meetings if the team doesn’t agree that the issues being discussed do not hold any business value.
5. Do your homework
A day after sending out the agenda, reach out to individual members to get their opinions. Build on that opinion or use it to bolster your own point of view. When you obtain information in advance,
- You “sit” with that information and find the interconnectedness in opinions
- You get to define where an idea starts and stops, or where offshoots of new ideas begin to crop up
- You get a deeper understanding of team pain points, explore their impact, then craft solutions for them or start a whole new discussion around them
- You can create a powerful presentation that will keep everyone gripped during your meeting.
Note: when you reach out to people individually, it shows that you value their opinion. This can only benefit your team.
During the meeting
The meeting has now started. You should have a good turnout if you prepared. So how do you now ensure that your meeting runs successfully?
6. Let the team get comfortable with each other
If you are meeting with few participants, let them introduce themselves.
- An introduction session is a great way to set the tone
- Introductions also get people to talk about their pain points
7. Encourage collaboration
You have already established the pain points or challenges from individual group members. Form your discussions around these challenges. Give team members an opportunity to brainstorm and generate ideas around those challenges.
- Everyone in the team takes ownership of the problem and becomes excited to take part in solving it
- It’s easier to gauge level of expertise and figure out how to apportion action points or group people into project teams
8. Establish meeting rules
- Turn your phones off, and do not “check out” until the meeting is over.
- Do not interrupt when someone is talking
- Mind your language and have respect for all meeting attendants
- Allow everyone’s input. Every participant should “raise their hand” and contribute their point of view
9. Keep everyone engaged
A great way to keep people engaged during virtual meetings is to call on them and give them tasks to be conducted after the meeting, or occasionally direct questions at them. At certain times during the meetings, stop and randomly ask a member for their input.
After the meeting
10. Send meeting notes
A great meeting tool takes meeting notes for you and thankfully, Aira does just that. After the meeting, Aira will automatically mail the action points or participants can simply log into the tool to access minutes and more.
It’s okay to allow people to disagree. This happens often in physical office settings, and you should also accommodate it in a virtual space. Before you end your meeting, allow people to have an informal discussion session where they express what they would do differently.