Do you find yourself looking forward to meetings or dreading them? The way we work is changing, which means the way we communicate needs to as well. Now that many meetings often include at least one person who isn’t in the same room, the same old meeting tactics won’t cut it anymore. Luckily, it’s still possible to have impactful meetings that feel natural for attendees on both sides of the call. 

Here are some of our best tried-and-true tips for running effective meetings that feel natural for everyone:

Establish meeting norms and etiquette 

​​Establish a shared etiquette for your team to keep everyone aligned on meeting expectations. This can mean anything from rules for being on time, to muting microphones and designating camera-on expectations, to setting established times and boundaries for presenting and participating.

Set up best practices to keep your participants attentive and productive:

  • Encourage nonverbal cues, like Zoom’s reactions feature, to showcase engagement
  • Let the chat flow naturally with regular prompts to keep the conversation going
  • Use the “hands up” feature whenever possible to signify a moment for input and prevent overspeak
  • Make use of visual aids like sticky notes or virtual whiteboards to assist in brainstorming and encourage participation
  • Only invite people who are necessary to the meeting — follow Amazon’s Two Pizza Rule that no meeting should be so large that two pizzas can’t feed everyone
  • Set time limits and stick to them

Beyond the general norms, weave in natural behaviors to keep meetings engaging and familiar. You already know some of your team’s best collaboration happens on-the-fly, so why not try and replicate those moments? Take meetings standing up, not only to keep meeting time short but also to recreate the setting of standing by someone’s desk and letting the mind-meld happen in real time. 

Set the right meeting environment

A major component of leading a good meeting is having the right meeting setup. Make sure your office’s meeting rooms are properly equipped with the right technology for hybrid meetings. Consider your teammates who may not be in the office and set them up for success with video conferencing tools and bolsters like room dividers, ring lights, and noise-canceling headphones.

Use technology to showcase participants — and yourself — in the best possible way. Make sure you have immersive video conferencing that is tailored to your meeting room. To achieve meeting equity you need to make sure all meeting participants can be seen and heard, whether they are physically in the room or not. Technology like the Meeting Owl 3 + Owl Bar can help make your hybrid meetings more inclusive by capturing every angle of a room to facilitate more face-to-face conversations. That way, both sides of the call have a natural and effective meeting experience.

Help others be heard

One of the largest issues meeting attendees face, whether they’re in-person or remote, is being heard during a meeting. It can be difficult to find the right moment to provide feedback, and many remote workers feel like proximity bias keeps them from being fully engaged and acknowledged.

Encourage involvement with your meeting participants with more spontaneous conversations. Sometimes you need to throw the agenda away so that you can get the input you’re looking for. Try incorporating interactive tools like Zoom polls to get in-the-moment feedback and spark some in-chat conversations. Use features like Microsoft Teams’ Together Mode or Zoom’s Immersive View to keep all your hybrid participants front and center on the screen, like they’re all in one room. Or set up the perfect view with your in-room technology.

If that’s not enough, plan breakout rooms for smaller groups of meeting attendees to get their thoughts out. Be sure to choose a topic, designate a moderator, and plan enough time after the breakout sessions to report key takeaways back to the broader team.

While in the meeting, keep the environment friendly and focused with a clean, distraction-free background and proper eye contact. That means keeping your meeting on your main monitor so you’re not looking off-screen, and focusing your eyes on your webcam to make direct eye contact. It takes some getting used to, but participants will feel more comfortable and you’ll be less distracted by what’s on screen.

Lastly, don’t monopolize the conversation! Leave time for feedback and additional ideas and make this a regular meeting practice so people know they always have a space to participate and have their voice heard. You’ll find more diversity of thought and a more proactive team simply by building space for it.

Don’t let meetings get in your way

Your meetings shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all of team success. Keep the conversation flowing beyond your meeting time and incentivize your team members to bring new ideas to the table at more natural points in the workflow. Then, when you launch into your meetings, you know everyone is ready to engage and the meeting won’t feel so forced. Here’s to better meetings — and better collaboration!

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