How to Make Remote Meetings Less Painful

Well, October has arrived, and that means you’ve been working from home for seven months! Back in March, it would have been impossible to imagine that, come fall, we’d still be meeting virtually with co-workers and clients. But here we are.

According to a report published in June 2020 by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), just over 40% of U.S. workers now work from home full time. The shift from working in the office to working virtually has created many challenges for policymakers and executives, according to the report, such as the need to ensure expanded broadband service on crowded city networks and questions companies face about moving headquarters from urban centers to suburban or rural areas to save on overhead.

No question, the move to remote work will have long-term consequences for cities for the foreseeable future, and professionals are wise to treat every new “remote-work policy” as provisional at best and always subject to change. As we muddle through in the meantime, is there a way we can make virtual meetings … well, less painful?

Now that we have been at this for some time, it’s high time law firm marketing leaders ask themselves whether the current approach to virtual meetings is making the best use of everyone’s time. Zoom fatigue is real, and as Page 2 has covered previously, hosts of meetings do indeed have the responsibility of making the experience as efficient and valuable as possible for participants.

So how do you do that? Beyond mastering the technical features of your videoconferencing tool, we’ve gathered some best practices that will ensure virtual meetings are a pleasant experience, not as an imposition:

  1. Don’t bury the lede: Always make the meeting link easily accessible to participants. With all that goes into planning a webinar (booking moderators and panelists, smoothing out scheduling conflicts, getting the timing of content and slides down pat), it’s easy to overlook the simple task of making the URL and/or meeting access code easy to find in communications. Don’t send participants scrambling in the minutes before a session begins. Put that link in bold!
  2. Prepare and stick to an agenda. Virtual meetings are notorious for awkward silences, and equally awkward cross-talk and apologies. You wouldn’t walk into an in-person meeting without a plan. Bring the same level of preparation (and maybe even more) to virtual meetings, whether you are the host or the participant. Stick to the agenda and prepared remarks when possible.
  3. Use virtual breakout rooms. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex Teams make it possible to conduct breakout sessions where five or fewer participants can meet to discuss topics in a more intimate setting. Getting away from the large group makes conversation and collaborating much easier, and provides an avenue for everyone to be heard. Breakout rooms can help streamline a meeting, and can always be recorded and shared with others later.

Constant remote meetings have not been an easy adjustment for anyone. But a few simple adjustment will make your virtual meetings will run efficiently and provide valuable information for participants.