Recently I asked a group I was working with whether they had a lot of virtual meetings. The answers I got were mixed. Some said they were using screen-sharing tools, a few used more elaborate collaboration platforms, and others said no they weren't leading virtual meetings. Then I asked a different question. How many of you are on conference calls regularly? After a group groan, everyone's hand shot up.
Remember, if you can't see the other person you are talking to, it's a virtual meeting. Why would we need to talk about this? We all know how to talk on the phone.
We used to use the phone primarily to clarify issues, get answers to questions, or schedule an in-person meeting. Now, we need to resolve conflict, collaborate on projects, make decisions, and close deals. That means we need to get better at communicating in the virtual environment.
The virtual environment requires that we be much more deliberate in our behavior. In your next conference call, put these recommendations into practice:
Get everyone on the same page at the start
Answer the "Why?" and the "What?" first. Make sure everyone agrees to the context for the meeting at the beginning.
Don't let people hide in your meeting
If they are on the call, they need to contribute and you need their feedback. Make sure you connect and talk to everyone on the call. Ask directed questions and don't forget to use names.
Make sure they can hear you
We all know what it's like to try and listen to poor audio on a call delivered through a speakerphone. Get a headset and make sure your audio is clear.
Don't assume agreement until you ask
Don't leave any meeting without next steps defined. You've heard this before. End your meeting on time so you can make sure everyone hears the conclusion. People will start hanging up immediately.
A small amount of preparation can have huge benefits in your virtual meetings. Remember, it's all virtual.