One of the biggest challenges when managing a remote team is to get everyone together for important meetings. Advanced video call technologies are a helpful tool to make these meetings more personable and to engage everyone in the conversation. But just like with face-to-face updates, virtual meetings have to be well-prepared to be effective. Here are 5 tips how you can turn your next virtual meeting into an engaging and successful digital conversation.

1. Create an agenda

This seems simple yet is crucial for having effective meetings – and not only digital ones. Every meeting should have an agenda to be more efficient and to clearly show everyone who is participating in the conversation what this meeting is for, how long it is going to take and what the outcome is hopefully going to be. This allows your team members to prepare and walk into that meeting with a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

2. Have a clear purpose for every person in the meeting

Have you even been stuck in a meeting and found yourself wondering why you were there? Make sure that every single person that is invited to your virtual meeting also has a reason to be there. Whether it is a short update, valuable input or to talk through the next deadlines, every participant of the meeting should have at least one small spot to share something with the group. Mark this spot on your agenda by clearly stating the name of each team member.

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3. Plan a time constraint for every component in the meeting

We have all been there: Zoning out in a meeting while another person was talking just that little bit too long. That is why time constraints are crucial for effective virtual meetings. Every component on the agenda should have a fixed time frame within the meeting. Whether it is 1 minute, 5 minutes or 20 minutes, make sure that every single aspect comes with an allocated time constraint. This helps to avoid meetings that go on too long and keep everyone in your remote team from doing their actual work. Additionally, every speaker therefore has to think about what they are going to say beforehand. You are way more likely to present only the most important facts and insights, if you are told you have 3 minutes for your presentation.

4. Have everyone engage in the conversation

This can be a very tricky thing, especially in virtual meetings. But it is also crucial to do if you do not want to have boring and inefficient team gatherings. You can do so by asking rhetorical questions while presenting your part of the meeting, for example as a transition of ideas. While people are not supposed to actually answer a rhetorical question, the raising of your voice at the end of a sentence subconsciously will trigger everyone’s attention and people are more likely to listen to you if they suspect to be asked a question later on.

You can also actually ask a question and specifically ask everyone on the call to share their opinion. This doesn’t have to be a long reiteration, but rather the virtual equivalent to a show of hands in a real-life meeting. Simply ask who is in favour or against something by a simple yes or no. Alternatively, you can have everyone type their response in your group chat or use emoticons to react to your question.

5. Pre-allocate homework

If you want people to actually prepare for a meeting and engage in the conversation when it’s happening, give them something to say. By pre-allocating homework for your virtual meeting, everyone not only has to mentally prepare for it, but you also give them an incentive to share something with the group by the actual time of the meeting. If you have spent time working on something, you might as well show it off and not just let it dust away in your desk, right? By pre-allocating homework, you give people a purpose to be there while also encouraging them to engage in the conversation at the same time.