The Dos and Don’ts of Virtual Meetings

By Jeffrey Byrne, Co-Founder and CEO at Byrne Pelofsky

Let’s face it – virtual meetings are our new reality. At least for the time being. With the global health crisis in full swing, businesses and nonprofits are adjusting to a new way of doing business. That is, through virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, GoTo Meetings, G Suite and Microsoft Teams. And while this technology has become essential to our operations, many of us don’t give virtual meetings the same amount of preparation, time and attention that we give in-person meetings. Well, those days are over!

Since we’re in it for the long haul with this new way of doing business, here are our Virtual Meeting Dos and Don’ts:

1. DO! Be Patient

We are all adjusting to a new reality with this virtual technology, so first and foremost, be patient with your team members. Some of your colleagues may be using this technology for the first time. Be patient and helpful. After one or two meetings, we will all be experts!

2. DO! Arrive On Time

A late entrance into any meeting is bad etiquette, but a late entrance into a virtual meeting is considerably more disruptive. It stalls the flow of the meeting (which has already started) and slows things down considerably. Be prepared well in advance with the link, phone number and/or access code available. Turn your computer on and open the application up and running at least 10 minutes before start time.

If this is your first virtual meeting as a team/staff, perhaps consider starting the first virtual meeting 30 minutes early to address tech and connection issues before you get going with your agenda.

3. DO! Prepare in Advance

Considering all the disruptions and time it takes to get up and running, do your part to maintain the momentum of the meeting by preparing in advance. Whether that’s reviewing the agenda or other information you’ve received ahead of time, it’s smart and efficient time management to be prepared.

4. DO! Consider the Setting

We get it. You’re working from home, in an environment with A LOT of distractions (children, family, pets, etc.). It’s not your first choice for a meeting setting. If possible, find a quiet space where you can limit background noise and visual distractions behind and around you. If noise is an issue, use the mute button if necessary, but not to conceal the sound of typing if you are multi-tasking. Which brings us to our next don’t….

5. DON’T! Multi-Task

Don’t answer your phone, text, email and definitely don’t check your social media. Treat your colleagues and meeting attendees as if they were physically in the room with you. Curb the temptation to multitask by closing e-mail on your laptop, turning off your cellphone, and clearing the area of distracting papers. We experience a huge drop in productivity when we are distracted.

6. DO! Be Professional

Again, we’re all at home where we feel most comfortable, but that’s no excuse for wearing your bathrobe to a meeting. Be sure to look professional and respectful of your colleagues. Remember, everyone can see you!