The COVID-19 pandemic has re-arranged the normal flow of activities and how things are done. For some things have always been the norm and this current state of things has only amplified their norm. For instance, some institutions have always been actively using e-learning all along. Some institutions have always been solely based on e-learning. For some, it has now become imperative that they adopt e-learning approaches so that they remain relevant. One other example is that of remote meetings – some have always done this even from before the pandemic. Some are only adopting the approach now due to the prevailing circumstances. We’ve previously covered productivity tips for in-person meetings. How can productivity be ensured during remote meetings?

Objectives Of Meetings Matter

When it comes to remote meetings you cannot just hold any type of meeting. This is because there are some things do not require a meeting let alone a remote one. For instance, status reports or progress reports can be emailed to the recipients and they go through them individually. If matters are arising or some issues need to be addressed then a remote meeting can be convened. It might not be wise to hold a remote meeting for something that can be handled through emails. In principle, convene remote meetings when there are pertinent issues that require strategic solutions.

They Should Be Interactive

Physical meetings are very interactive and remote meetings are no exception. The point I discussed above is central to making remote meetings interactive. Any undertaking that involves interrogating an issue to address it tends to spark interactive discussions. Earlier I pointed out that things like, for instance, a progress report should just be emailed. If it is shared during a remote meeting this would be like a presentation of sorts. One-to-many presentations like that are not ideal for remote meetings. Essentially, a presentation can be put together and shared with the respective recipients individually. Interactive discussions should be the primary basis of a remote meeting.

Limit The Number Of Participants

We have just been talking about interactive remote meetings. Individuals are unique and as such views and opinions can be different. Reaching a consensus can be a tall order as it is. Thus it is wise to limit the number of participants to promote objectivity and increase the chances of reaching a consensus. Ideally, you can stick to at most just eight participants. It is vital to ensure that they do not all talk at once. One or at most two participants should be talking at any given time. This is central to making the meeting orderly and productive. There is something closely tied to this that I will discuss a little bit later on.

Well Laid Out Agenda

Agenda is always important and much more so for remote meetings. There are so many variables at play for remote meetings. I am referring to network differences and performances, different locations (even different time zones), data consumption and so on. If you do not have an agenda not only will you have a disorderly meeting but it will stretch for too long. This can be very inconvenient for some of the participants. Ironically, that can all happen without reaching any workable conclusions. This is why having an agenda is critically important. Once you have an agenda you can use that to properly manage the duration of the meeting. Agenda and duration feed into each other – either can determine the other.

Stick To A Reasonable Duration

I have just been underscoring the importance of having an agenda. Closely married to that is the duration factor. People have very low attention spans, in general, especially when it comes to virtual platforms. Thus you must make sure remote meetings are not too long. A meeting of 30 minutes or at most 45 minutes is optimal for successfully holding a remote meeting where everyone is fully engaged. If a long meeting is inevitable then it is strategic to take periodic breaks here and there. You can even break it down into separate meetings that will be held at different times.

Meeting Must Be Effectively Moderated

When you consider all that we have been discussing you can attest to the importance of having effective moderation. The meetings must have someone moderating the meeting. Some of the roles and responsibilities of that individual are to determine who speaks, at what time and for how long. They also see to it that the agenda items are being covered and adherence to set time limits is being done. Thanks to technology, teleconferencing platforms have features that help in all these regards. Examples are muting and unmuting or posting restriction features.

Most people are already taking advantage of remote meetings to remain operational. One of the most commonly used platforms nowadays is Zoom. If you have not yet started doing remote meetings then you are probably missing out on great convenience. I have attended several meetings on the Zoom platform and it is very well structured. Remember remote meetings are cheaper than physical meetings. The costs that come with physical meetings (especially when participants are travelling from far and wide) make data costs of remote meetings very insignificant.