The importance of business meetings for distributed teams

Mihai Cristea 16/04/2020 | 15:12

Right now, the Coronavirus pandemic is having a drastic impact on many businesses. It’s crucial for businesses to continue having meetings throughout this outbreak and communication remains invaluable when it comes to how businesses plan and develop their ideas.

This comes at a time when more businesses are moving from physical offices and in-person meetings to remote work and virtual meetings.

The meetings must go on. But here’s how they might look a little different and the adjustments we need to make.

 

Communication is more important than ever

Communication is the core of many businesses to keep everything together–and during these times, this is more important than ever.

Without the ease and convenience that in-person working provides, it’s crucial to make sure your communication channels like video meetings, emails and Slack chats are working as efficiently as possible.

Prevent miscommunication and misunderstandings by making sure that the meeting notes are clear, concise, and cover all the important topics and decisions.

 

How to start and conduct a business meeting for distributed teams

One great way to start a business meeting is to include some fun icebreakers. Another option is to ask everyone some quick questions. Let’s look at some ideas to warm everybody up.

 

Business meeting ice breakers online

You could ask the team fun questions, such as “What would you do with a million dollars?” or “What’s the worst birthday gift you’ve ever received?” These games will help the team members get to know one another in a short time.

You can get creative with these games; the most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to get all your team members on the same page, and comfortable with one another. It’s difficult to achieve any sort of meaningful collaboration or brainstorming with a team that’s uncomfortable and withdrawn.

 

Every meeting needs a business agenda

When conducting an online business meeting, you need an agenda. Without a plan the meeting is doomed to meander on meaningless tangents. A business meeting agenda will help ensure that no important topics are skipped or overlooked, and that any off-topic discussions are kept to a minimum.

First, write down the meeting’s goals: what do you hope to accomplish with today’s meeting? Ask team members for input, making sure the agenda includes items that reflect everyone’s needs or concerns. Then, list all the questions or concerns you plan to address. Phrase each topic as a question, making it explicitly clear exactly what you’re intending to address. Estimate the amount of time you’ll spend on each topic or question, and identify who will lead each topic.

Finally, end each meeting with a review where you go over the events of the meeting, asking everyone what was done well, and what you want to do differently next time. This will enable you to plan better for the next meeting, with the goal of constant improvement.

 

Business meeting etiquette for remote work

Some business meeting rules are similar across the board, whether in the boardroom or in your living room.

It’s always best practice to be prepared and know what you’re there to accomplish. Establish a professional atmosphere by ensuring you have the documents and information you need to hand.

As with any in person meeting, pay attention when others are speaking, mute your phone or computer if you’re not speaking, silence other gadgets that might be heard in the background and, perhaps most importantly, always remember others can see you.

Exceptions to standard etiquette due to Coronavirus

While there are some universal standards, there’s no denying that some aspects of business meeting etiquette have changed over the last few weeks. Many people may have noisy children in the background due to quarantining with their families.

Many people, especially those with elderly or at-risk family members, may have loved ones who are in a precarious position of health, or fall into that category themselves. It’s important to be mindful of this fact, especially if a colleague is late to a meeting or cannot attend due to caring for a loved one.

 

Different types of business meetings

There are different types of business meetings, depending on what the goals are and what needs to be achieved. There are meetings for status updates, where important announcements, such as organizational changes or plans, are shared. These also include announcements about milestones or successes for the company.

There are meetings to help resolve conflicts and solve problems, and meetings for complex decision making. There are meetings for reviewing company progress, or progress on a particular project. There are meetings for team building, meetings for brainstorming, and meetings for idea sharing. For the sake of efficiency, it’s always a good idea to combine these types of meetings where possible.

 

How to take minutes at a remote business meeting

Why take minutes and meeting notes? It’s important to take minutes during a business meeting to record important decisions, details, and assignments. This will remind you what was discussed and agreed upon, so you can review these components later. This will help prevent disagreements because every meeting member can review the minutes afterward, instead of having to rely on their own memory of events.

 

Who should take meeting notes?

During a meeting, it may be best for one person to take meeting notes, so that there aren’t a number of conflicting notes at the end. The task of taking meeting notes is an important one  and should be taken seriously.

Otter.ai can help relieve much of the burden to take exact and accurate meeting notes. It uses real-time transcription with speaker identification, so it will record exactly what was said and by whom, so that the meeting note-taker doesn’t have to scramble to write down everything everyone is saying. Meeting attendees can highlight important sentences collaboratively, at the end of the meetings Otter.ai will generate a highlight summary for all the meeting attendees.

 

What happens to the meeting notes afterwards

After the meeting is concluded, the meeting notes can be distributed to every team member so that everyone has the meeting documented for easy access.

Because meetings are now conducted online through platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and Google Meet, this can make organisation of the meeting difficult. Many people may be talking at once.

Enter Otter.ai. With its real-time transcription services and speaker identification, Otter can take much of the burden of note taking off of its meeting attendees. Otter’s free plan offers 600 minutes of transcription per month, and includes the options to share with groups and other meeting members, and sync Zoom cloud recordings.

It’s important to keep in mind that although businesses and business meetings have moved online during this pandemic, your meeting notes don’t have to suffer.

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