The shift to working from home during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for most. The change was sudden and the circumstances unique. The first few weeks were frantic and hectic. Now, new routines and work processes are being established as we navigate these strange times. New home office spaces have been set up as we all learned the hard way that sitting at the kitchen table is bad for your back. Kids, pets, and/or partners have been wrangled, sometimes with mixed success :). Teams are staying connected via chat apps like Slack, online document sharing, and even virtual after-work (generally!) beers each week. At the forefront of all of this is the use of video conferencing software for our meetings.
Zoom has become synonymous with running virtual meetings. There are pictures all over the internet of the standard grid of faces, combined with memes about bad hair, not wearing pants, and lower beauty standards. All joking aside, virtual meetings using online video conferencing is the new normal. Unfortunately, virtual meetings are still running into the normal pitfalls that in-person meetings have that waste tons of time (and money!). These include:
The solutions to these problems are the same as for in-person meetings, but perhaps even more important for virtual meetings.
Have you sat through a Zoom meeting yet with your mic on mute, trying to sneak in writing an email or work on a project? Yeah…It’s hard to stay engaged when there are outside distractions like your dog licking your feet or your child asking for a snack...500 times. The ‘distance’ in social distancing can feel far and the screen a barrier between you and your colleagues. Not to mention the innate distraction of the COVID19 situation itself. It’s all anyone can talk about and it’s pretty exhausting.
So what to do? Some preparation, structure, accountability, and compassion will go a long way in setting your virtual meetings up for success, and Tadum will help.
Like all meetings, it makes a big difference for both the person who is leading the meeting and the attendees to know why they are meeting in the first place! We are all having trouble concentrating some days so knowing why we are meeting and the outcomes of the meeting go a long way. Your Zoom meetings need an agenda!
For meeting leaders
Preparing an agenda is an important way to collect your thoughts on what you want to talk about and narrow down the outcomes you want to achieve. You might even have a set format you follow like running a Level 10 meeting or a Gazelles weekly meeting which helps give you a structure to follow. When your agenda is done you can digitally send it to your meeting attendees and set the tone for the meeting.
For meeting attendees
Seeing the agenda ahead of the meeting and understanding the purpose of the meeting makes a huge difference for everyone to come in prepared. They can review anything they need to ahead of time, they know if there is something specific expected of them to talk about or present on, and they can add their own agenda items.
Time isn’t wasted IN the meeting, multiplied by all those people figuring out why everyone is there and what you are going to talk about.
Leave a little space in your online meetings for people to chat a little and connect. That grid of faces on Zoom might be the only social interaction that some people get that day. Everyone is missing the ‘water cooler’ talk and hallway chats and having a bit of space to share can help keep up morale during this hard time.
First, it can help to set some ground rules for your video conference calls, especially for people who are new to video conferencing. You can learn more in our Tips for running effective remote meetings. Clear expectations are a big part of engagement, which is why having an agenda in the first place is so important.
With Zoom, you can easily share your screen. It can be helpful for meeting attendees to be able to visually follow along as you move through the agenda and take meeting minutes. Alternately, everyone can follow along from their own homes if they can all access the agenda digitally.
Kids, pets, and partners might be a real thing during your Zoom calls. It’s a big part of what makes this situation unique. While work needs to be done and important discussions need to be had, normalizing the occasional cat butt in front of the camera or parter walking by in the background in PJs can help lower some of the stress that comes with video conferencing.
It's easy to agree to do something before the next video call, nod sagely in your new headphones, only to have it slip your mind as soon as you disconnect from Zoom. Prevent that “oh crap” moment in your next meeting where you realize you didn’t do that thing by recording meeting minutes and todos in real-time during the meeting.
Meeting minutes make sure everyone is on the same page and keep a history of discussions and decisions. They are so valuable if someone had to miss the meeting (my cat chewed my power cord AGAIN), or you want to go back and review what was agreed upon weeks later (since no one can remember what happened yesterday, never mind 3 weeks ago).
As part of your minutes, recording todos as they are assigned makes a huge difference in keeping people accountable for the things they said they would do. Having a name next to a todo, along with a due date, reinforces who is responsible for what, and when.
While we want to ensure everyone stays accountable for their responsibilities, there are likely still going to be things that are missed or forgotten between meetings (especially right now). There are so many distractions and competing priorities like having to school your children, make 3 meals a day, and/or share an office with your partner...all while trying to work. Let’s all try to be patient and kind when mistakes or missed todos happen.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, perhaps permanently. Where possible, anyone who can work from home is doing so. Meetings are now almost exclusively virtual and using online video conferencing software is the norm. While it has been a rocky transition for many, this is an opportunity to adapt and set new processes, like running your virtual meetings with an agenda and taking meeting minutes! Combining your Zoom video conference calls with Tadum online agendas and meeting minutes will help you avoid the common pitfalls of in-person meetings by adding some preparation, structure, and accountability (with compassion!).
Try using Tadum today, you'll be glad you did :)
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We are through the initial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic and have adjusted to working remotely and communicating digitally via tools like Zoom and Slack. Virtual communication is now expected but many companies haven’t had time, (or taken time), to think about their digital organizational processes. In particular, many meetings have lost what little structure they had to begin with. It isn’t as simple as hopping on a call. Learn three mistakes that most companies are making with their Zoom meetings and how to avoid them.