As a general rule, take the time to email a meeting agenda ahead of time to all participants and include instructions on how to join the virtual meeting. Even with the proper preparation, there is no guarantee that every meeting will run perfectly. Here are a few common problems and how to manage them.
Running out of time
Though virtual meetings can be as simple as walking from your couch to your desk, they don’t always start as smoothly as sitting down at a boardroom table. Make sure you take into consideration technology difficulties that may leave some stragglers struggling to join the video conference. Plan for the added time this may entail. Be careful not to keep the group longer than promised as it does not encourage trust and can interfere with everyone else’s day.
Work from home distractions
Set some ground rules before each meeting such as encouraging everyone to put phones on silent, avoiding using the keyboard to take notes (it’s very noisy) and setting up for the video call in a quiet room. Some distractions may be inevitable given the current circumstances, such as people juggling child care responsibilities, so be respectful of each participant’s unique situation.
If the group falls silent
Don’t panic. Let it be silent for a minute so the group has time to reflect on the idea or issue being discussed. Then acknowledge the silence and ask if anyone would like you to clarify anything. Speaking up in a virtual meeting can be intimidating as it’s harder to read body language or “feel out the room”. Sometimes a little encouragement is all that’s needed to get the group talking again.