While virtual meetings have been around and used by businesses for years, the average person likely has not had too much exposure to them, let alone hosting one. While most of us have had to learn on the job and adapt to use software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, it is quite likely that despite your best efforts things are not going as smoothly as you would hope. Moving to a virtual medium can be a challenge, but below are 5 tips to make any virtual meeting or conference call go a little better regardless of who is hosting them.

Here are 5 Tips to Improve Your Virtual Meetings:

1. Provide some guidelines

Because of the fact that the participants of your meeting will now likely be working from home, it can be easy for them to adopt a less professional attitude. To prevent this, make a shortlist of guidelines for any virtual communication to ensure that your co-workers and employees stay professional and remain focused on the task at hand. These guidelines may involve assigning certain responsibilities to certain members, conducting themselves to a certain standard, or even using certain features available with the technology.

Some things to include are highlighted below but don’t hesitate to add your own ideas if you think they will help your meetings progression.

2. Take steps to avoid issues and distractions

The first and most important thing to do in order to avoid issues in a virtual meeting is to have each member check their internet connection and their hardware. This includes whichever computer they are using, their headphones, and their microphone. Ensure that their internet connection is sufficient to hold a call and if they have multiple people using a poor connection, make sure they avoid downloading or streaming anything for the duration of the meeting. It is also important to make sure all participants have headphones because if they are not used by one person, their microphone can pick up the sound and cause an echo for everyone else involved.

One of the great things about Zoom is that you can use custom backgrounds to prevent any distractions in your home, for example, a messy house, a cute dog walking around, or even other people going about their life. One great option is to use a Hello Backgrounds product to take the attention away from your surroundings and keep it on you. Ensuring that each participant's software, hardware, and outside distractions are taken care of will greatly help to keep your meeting on track and productive.

3. Prepare an agenda in advance

Preparing an agenda, time-specific or otherwise, is a huge help for meetings in general and even more so for virtual meetings. To spread the responsibility you can assign one person per meeting to come up with an agenda of what you need to cover to keep things moving forward. In addition to noting down what topics you need to go over, a good agenda will also include, the start and finish time of the meeting, as well as the overall objectives you want to set or complete by the end of the meeting.

It can also be a good idea to make the agenda creator the mediator for that meeting to ensure that the agenda is followed instead of being forgotten about.

4. Be sure to increase interaction

Meetings, virtual or not, can be tough to stay focused on depending on how long it goes for. Luckily, there are a few tools at your disposal in virtual meetings to help keep the participants engaged and interacting with each other. These tools include screen sharing and virtual whiteboards that provide the information on-screen instead of just being spoken of.

5. Don’t go for too long.

As we just mentioned, sitting through a long meeting can be hard and it’s often difficult for people to stay focused, especially if they’re at home. To keep your participants attention, try to keep any meeting around 30-45 minutes long to avoid anyone getting bored or distracted.

Finally, be sure to include some time for general chat, you want to keep your co-workers and employees friendly with one another and the best way to do so is to talk socially for a while whether it be before or after the business is taken care of.

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Mashum Mollah is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at Viacon, a digital marketing agency that drive visibility, engagement, and proven results. He blogs at MashumMollah.com.

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