Employee engagement is always an issue of priority for any business, whether large or small. This can take many forms, from encouraging staff to offer up innovative ideas to simply paying attention in meetings. When you’re dealing with video meetings on a large scale, maintaining focus not only potentially becomes more difficult since the crowd is larger, but it’s also more important than ever to keep on track. Large meetings nowadays are more often than not held over camera using video conferencing technology on a webcast platform. It’s cost effective and can get a lot more done in a shorter period than expecting everyone to come to a conference room with busy schedules. This is especially true if your enterprise is spread out geographically. However, maintaining the focus of your meeting participants is easier than you think. Here are five simple hacks to help you keep your meeting focused, on track, and productive for everyone involved.
- Have IT Monitor the Room
One of the most common issues when using video conferencing is troubleshooting. While this doesn’t mean that the system is difficult to use, other things can go wrong, such as your network being finicky or other technical issues out of your control. A useful trait for IT using BlueJeans video conferencing for large groups is the fact that the system is optimized for live monitoring from the IT department. This means less back and forth if you require troubleshooting assistance, as well as enhanced security. These types of video conferencing systems are designed with IT integration in mind, so monitoring the virtual conference room is already built into the package.
- Understand Cultural Differences for International Participants
An important aspect of meetings that is often overlooked is the fact that there’s not only universal meeting etiquette to think about, such as not being distracted or speaking out of turn, but also the additional layer of potential cultural conflicts. As Tweak Your Biz points out, business etiquette can vary dramatically from one country to another, and it’s, therefore, imperative that you know in advance if any international colleagues will be at your video meeting and what the proper professional etiquette is in their culture. Knowing the expectations of meeting participants, especially in large groups, is especially important to make sure that your meeting flows and respect is maintained amongst colleagues.
- Cut Down on Background Distractions
It’s imperative to set etiquette ground rules that are strictly adhered to during large online meetings. For example, Business 2 Community advises that all participants be required to put their smartphones on do not disturb mode to reduce distractions during the meeting. When you’re dealing with a sizable group of people, it can be easy for discussions to be derailed or lost in the hubbub of conversation. Therefore, setting up boundaries like disabling smartphones and muting microphones while not speaking is more important than ever, and you should enforce these rules with an iron fist as the meeting organizer.
- Make Use of Available Collaboration Tools
One mistake that can make a major difference to productivity is overlooking the bells and whistles attached to video conferencing systems. The ability to integrate other tools, such as Google and Outlook calendars, can be easy to ignore if you already have a preexisting way of doing things. However, making sure that you take advantage of these features, as well as encouraging and even requiring your staff to do the same, can improve efficiency and communication by a surprising amount. Using these features to better organize time and the process can be a serious boon to how your employees manage their schedules and resources.
- Provide Video Meeting Instructions Beforehand
Before you even send an invitation to a meeting via your calendar, sit down and compile a short list of instructions to send everyone at the same time. This includes an agenda, goals, rules of etiquette, materials to review ahead of time, and any other pertinent information. One of the biggest mistakes that many online meeting organizers make is that they assume meeting participants will simply assume or know what to expect in a meeting with only an agenda. Although at times this should be a given using common sense, never underestimate people’s ability to be flight or miss obvious things. Always send out instructions and a clear agenda before scheduling a video conference meeting with a large group.
Hosting productive meetings, whether in person or over video, is essential to the success of a project, and ultimately your business. People power is one of the primary resources that fuels new ideas, and you also need the focus and collaboration to execute those ideas as well. By making sure that your large-scale meetings are focused, you can also impart information on a bigger group of people at one time. What matters here is management style and efficacy, and the key is a combination of spelling out expectations from your participants, as well as fostering an online meeting environment where those expectations can be fulfilled.