How to host virtual meetings successfully

Working from home is certainly not a new idea. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it was estimated that 1.7 million people in the UK worked from home. However, the resulting lockdowns has seen this amplified with companies mobilising staff to work remotely.

An estimated 20 million people relocated to home offices and it’s projected that 41% of employees will likely work remotely at least some of the time post pandemic.

With more people working remotely, it is predicted that by 2024, in-person meetings will drop from 60% of enterprise meetings to 25%.

With this decrease in face-to-face meetings expected, how can we make sure that virtual meetings are effective?

We spoke to Chris Southern (our General Sales Manager for Enterprise Solutions) to get his advice on how to host a virtual meeting successfully. Here are his top five tips:

1. Business outcome
2. Timings
3. Communication tools
4. Visibility
5. Audio

1. Business outcome

First and foremost, make sure that you know what you would like to get out of the meeting. What are the desired outcomes?

Bullet point what areas need to be addressed. This will help with keeping the meeting on point.

Involvement is key for a successful meeting. Try to make sure that everyone in the meeting has their say. Call on people to get their views and ask questions to increase engagement.

At the end of the meeting, you should summarise the resulting action points to make sure that everyone is clear on what is needed and when.

2. Timings

Be realistic with your timings. Will 45 minutes give you enough time to cover what’s needed or would you rather sit on a video call for two hours? Virtual meetings can be more intensive on the senses than being in a room. Try not to burn yourself or your team out with back-to-back meetings.

3. Communication tools

There are many communication tools available including the likes of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Join.me and others. They all have different functionalities and so it’s best practice to test the technology beforehand to ensure the meeting is executed successfully and attendees can contribute.

If you are hosting the meeting, familiarise yourself with the chosen virtual platform and make sure that you can navigate features like screen sharing, muting and unmuting participants, and webcam permissions with ease.

Send detailed login instructions to participants. No matter if they are colleagues or customers, they may need a reminder of how to access the meeting.

And be prepared for technical challenges. With people working from different locations, on different internet speeds with different experiences on the platform, you will likely have some technical issues to overcome. With this in mind, have a plan B. With so many tools available, if something does go wrong you can easily change platform or device.

4. Visibility

Video is a great way to make people feel like they are in the same meeting while keeping them engaged.

When participating in a virtual meeting, make sure your face is visible and think about the height of your camera – nobody wants a double chin! Ensure your webcam is at eye level. This will look more natural – like you are sitting across from each other at the same table.

The placement of your camera can also cause issues as people tend to want to look at who they are talking to, but if their camera is off to the side and they are looking at their screen, they appear to not be involved in the conversation. By looking at your camera, you create a stronger connection with the meeting participants.

Also think about your background including the lighting. Are you in a well-lit room or in front of windows? Think about what effect the lighting might have. If the sun shines, it might bleach out the picture or if it’s too dark, can they see you? Are there lots of distractions in your background? Will this deter participants from listening to what you have got to say? A neutral background is the safest option.

If you considering turning your conference into a webinar – your audience will expect professional looking videos. They are no longer aspirational or unachievable and many of the products have become commoditised. You’ll need to know your webcams, to your PTZ cameras and the huge growth in ‘All-in-One’ USB video conferencing products to support video and audio with their built-in microphone and speakers. With 95% of meeting rooms seating 12 people or below the world of the ‘All-in-One’ product caters to a large audience and will continue to grow even more so with innovative product launches this year supporting Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM). Have a look at our streaming guide to get you started.

5. Audio

Make sure that your mic is working and turned on when you want to speak. However, if there are multiple people in the meeting, mute your mic when you are listening to avoid background noise interrupting your fellow participants.

Check that your speakers are working and are at a suitable volume for you to be able to hear the conversation and to contribute when necessary.

Also think about turning off notifications so that you aren’t bombarded with distracting sounds during the meeting.

There are numerous audio solutions out there. Soundbars and headsets are the popular choice in home offices and huddles spaces, and for good reason. They’re compact, high-performance and typically low maintenance compared to other fixed install products. Some conferencing sound bars even come with cameras and microphones built in.

Here at Midwich, we have a wide range of workspace technology to help staff stay connected, contact your account manager to find out more.