3 Tips for Conducting Virtual Business Meetings

The days of getting everyone together in person for a meeting are disappearing for many companies. Coordinating schedules can be difficult, and expenses can add up when you have to pay for team members who work in different geographic areas to travel to a single location. By saving everyone time and money, technology allows you to accomplish the same goals more efficiently through virtual business meetings.

What Is a Virtual Business Meeting?

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Image via Flickr by NEC Corporation of America

A virtual business meeting takes place when team members, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders use video, audio, and text technologies to discuss business matters, regardless of physical location. This discussion usually involves video conferencing or teleconferencing to bring everyone together in a virtual environment. With careful planning, a virtual business meeting can be as successful and productive — or even more productive — than an in-person gathering. Discover some tips for hosting virtual business meetings.

Send an Advanced Calendar Invitation

Just like an in-person gathering, timing is everything with a virtual business meeting. You need a set time to start and end so that participants can plan schedules around the meeting. Send the date and time as far in advance as possible and ask attendees to confirm. If your meeting attendees are physically located in different time zones, make sure to account for the time difference in your planning.

Use Video Conferencing Tools

When possible, use videoconferencing as opposed to audio only. Without face-to-face contact, virtual meetings can feel impersonal, and participants can easily multitask or zone out of the discussion. If you have a stable internet connection, tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts are good choices that are easy to use.

Another positive aspect of conducting video conferences is that you can use screen sharing. As the name suggests, screen sharing means displaying whatever is on your computer screen to all the attendees in your virtual meeting. However, sharing is not a one-directional activity. You can pass the role of presenter to others in the meeting so that they can share their screens with the group as well. 

Invite the Correct Number of Participants

When you’re planning a virtual meeting, you may be tempted to invite everyone you can think of to attend. However, resist the urge to include too many people, especially if you’re using video conferencing. 

If you have more than five participants, background noise and poor connections may make the experience difficult for everyone. Even if you need to hold a series of meetings with fewer participants at each one, that arrangement is preferable to one large group having a cumbersome and frustrating experience. Also, a presenter can more easily engage with a smaller group so that participants can leave with a more positive view of virtual meetings.

As more companies embrace telecommuting, a distributed workforce, and multiple geographic locations, virtual business meetings become part of the routine. You don’t have to sacrifice productivity and engagement in the name of cost savings and efficiency. Take advantage of the many tools available to you to give your team a positive experience with virtual meetings.

Adam Torkildson