run efficient remote meetings

How to run a successful
virtual meeting

After years of remote work, many of us are still learning how to run a successful virtual meeting. But we can all agree that while the modern workforce is predominately hybrid, occasional virtual team meetings are necessary.

Planning is critical: Similar to face-to-face meetings, virtual meetings require pre-planning and organization to run successfully. 

Virtual meetings have etiquette rules, too: But we won’t leave you guessing. This post will spell out everything you need to know about video meetings.

Hubstaff provides insights: Recently, we’ve begin to question the very idea of holding meetings at all. We’re here to help with our Insights add-on that can detect time spent in meetings and time spent on productive tasks. 

Planning a virtual meeting

The first step to a successful virtual meeting is the planning. We all know there’s nothing worse than a meeting without a clear focus. Here are some crucial steps to consider before running a remote meeting:

Virtual meeting agenda

  1. Create an agenda: Creating a virtual meeting agenda is crucial for remote meetings where effective communication can be challenging. Make sure to share the agenda with participants at least a day ahead of the meeting so that they can prepare.

  2. Schedule like a pro: Consider time zones when looking for a suitable time for your meeting. If you’re using Google Calendar, you can use the Suggested Times feature to see when several team members are available. 

  3. Choose the right tool: Most one-on-one meetings can be done over the phone or in a quick Slack Huddle. If you’re meeting with three or more people, you’ll want to use a dedicated video conferencing tool like Google Meet or Zoom. You can even use a note-taking app like Fireflies

A little planning goes a long way when you’re trying to get your team together. But not every conversation between team members needs to be a lengthy video call.

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Should this meeting be an email?

Most of us have at least one meeting on our calendar right now that would function better as a Slack thread or an efficient email exchange.

Studies show CEOs attend an average of 37 weekly meetings and spend 72% of their work time in meetings.

Recently, there have been increased calls for reducing meetings. Shopify made waves recently for telling employees to decline meetings in their calendars. At Hubstaff, we’ve implemented no-meetings days to boost productivity and help our team devote more focus time to their projects.

Meetings aren’t always unproductive — but they do inherently take time away from focused work. If you’re scheduling meetings (especially recurring meetings with large headcounts), proceed cautiously.

Once you determine a meeting is necessary and have carefully selected your attendees, it’s worth reviewing the golden rules of virtual meeting etiquette.

Remote meeting best practices

In most cases, you should behave as you would in person during a virtual team meeting. That said, there are some remote meeting nuances that everyone should be on the same page about.

The following tips will help make virtual meetings more interactive, productive, and effective.

1. Set up the call for success

As the meeting host, you’ll want to sign in on time and be ready to welcome others as they connect — just like you would for an in-person meeting. When starting discussions, remember to, well, be human. Greet your team members, ask them about their day, and act naturally.

If you start your meetings by discussing non-work-related topics, your team will feel more relaxed and engaged.

2. Share your screen when presenting

Bring the group together by sharing your screen while presenting. This keeps everyone on the same page and lets them see exactly what you’re discussing. Use video when possible to create a stronger sense of collaboration.

Using video can create a more collaborative feeling among meeting participants

3. Stay on track

Creating a meeting agenda is one thing, but you still have to follow it. Check-in throughout the meeting to ensure you’re meeting objectives and accomplishing what you set out to do.

You can even track time to a specific task to ensure you stay on target. Hubstaff lets you create projects and tasks within those projects. This way, you can see exactly how much focus time you’re getting.

4. Include everyone

Open-ended questions can lead to many people talking at once, so promote turn-taking.

Additionally, give your team members time to think. While it’s human nature to speak to fill moments of silence, people may be reluctant to talk in a remote meeting because they don’t want to interrupt someone.

5. Reduce disruptions

Remember that noise is one of the biggest challenges of remote meetings. You’ll want to mute your microphone to reduce noise when you’re not speaking. This will make it easier for everyone to hear you.

Turn off all your notifications so there aren’t distracting alerts or pop-ups during screen shares or talk time. Give your full attention to the speaker and the meeting itself.

6. Start and end on time

Late starts to virtual meetings are enormous time-wasters. And the risk of running over can mean that people miss other meetings or critical work time.

Consider time zones and duration when booking so that it’s not extending late into the evening if you run over. Remember to assign action items before your time is up.

Hubstaff can help optimize meetings

Hubstaff Insights Add-On can help your team cut down on meetingsWith the Hubstaff Insights add-on, you can compare each team member against industry-specific benchmarks. With this data, you can see average activity, time utilization, and meetings vs. focus time.

Hubstaff Insights can identify and deter excessive meetings. See real-time updates and decrease meeting time to improve productivity and profits.

Insights into meeting time can help you manage an engaged, profitable team. Not all meeting time is unproductive or wasted, but pinpointing how much time you spend in meetings is invaluable. 

Plus, as a manager, you can use Hubstaff Insights to determine how much money is being spent on payroll while your team is in meetings. This can be a great way to determine the cost of unproductive meetings — a data point that interests executives, stakeholders, and employees alike.

Go forth and meet, remotely!

While remote meetings might seem challenging to manage, they’re not. Planning and following the rules of etiquette is all you need to ensure a successful and productive remote meeting.

Using tools like Hubstaff, you can plan your meetings and take the guesswork out of who is supposed to be doing what.

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