Given the current circumstances, we are all trying our hardest to stay productive while we are confined to our homes and working remotely. For those of us that aren’t used to working away from the office, this can be difficult to get your head around. There are plenty of distractions, technical issues and, let’s be honest, it’s hard to get motivated.
At least by now, we should have all mastered talking on the phone, but how do we keep everyone engaged during bigger meetings?
We’ve all suffered through a frustrating meeting. One that is disorganised, without an agenda and with far too many attendees that leaves us feeling like we have just wasted an hour and half of our valuable time.
When remote working it can be even worse. There are no non-verbal cues or side conversations, it’s easy to forget who is on the line and people end up multitasking: getting on with other things while they are not actively engaged in the conversation.
The problem is, for a conference call to be effective, you need everyone to contribute. You need their knowledge and input, that is why they are on the call.
During this challenging time, it’s important that we make our remote workers feel connected and valued. To help, we have put together some tips to help you make everyone feel like they are all in the room together.
Top Tips for Remote Conferencing
- Make it Mobile-First
- The first step is to make sure your remote employees have all the tools they need. They need to be able to join calls from any device whether it is a mobile, tablet or desktop and on any operating system. Using a cloud-hosted phone system such as MiCloud Connect can make this extremely easy.
- Ensure a Strong Connection
- There is nothing more frustrating than a poor connection that makes it difficult to hear others or contribute to the conversation. Using a good cloud-based phone system means employees can connect from any device and ensure the best possible connection.
- Have a Clear Agenda
- Every meeting needs direction, especially if there are lots of people involved. Ensuring everyone is given a clear agenda a few days before the meeting is due to go ahead is essential in helping things run smoothly. A unified communication system with built-in agenda capability can help even further.
- Pick the Best Time for Everyone
- A convenient time for one person is not always the best time for another, particularly if some of the people in the meeting are parents. When scheduling a meeting, be sure to discuss a suitable time for everyone and try and arrange your meeting for a time where no one will be distracted.
- Share Your Goals and Targets
- Let everyone know prior to the meeting what you hope to achieve during the meeting and ensure everyone is fully prepared to contribute to the conversation.
- Invite the Right People
- Unsurprisingly, conference calls with too many participants are less engaging. Too many, and not everyone will be engaged. There is no magic number, but more than ten is probably too many. Review your meetings when they are over, decide if it was necessary to have everyone in attendance and if everyone was able to contribute and make any necessary adjustments for next time.
- Establish Some Ground Rules
- Work out some ground rules to ensure people aren’t talking over each other and that they can get their point across without any interruptions. Perhaps, as not everyone is in the room, the person speaking should say their name so everyone is aware of who they are listening to. Ask your team what they think would help the conversation run more smoothly.
- Start With Introductions
- This might sound obvious, but it often gets overlooked. Ask everyone to say hello, give their name and role and explain why they’re on the call. If it’s a video call, make sure everyone is using video or, if they can’t be, ask them to post a photo of themselves instead.
- Invite Participation
- Keep track of who has spoken and ask everyone who hasn’t direct questions to engage them in the conversation.
- Manage Speaking Time
- One of the hardest things for the person controlling the meeting is managing who speaks and for how long. If people are finding it difficult to get a word in, it is the meeting leaders job to gently interrupt and allow someone else to speak.
- When speaking face-to-face it can be easy to fill in the blanks: speaking clearly isn’t as important because the listener is picking up nonverbal cues too. That is missing when you are not speaking face-to-face. Therefore, it is important that everyone on the call speaks clearly and slowly.
- Add Some Visuals
- Use collaborative conference software that allows participants to share their screen. Use visuals to keep everyone engaged. Ask different people to share different documents.
- Switch it Up
- In most meetings, there are plenty of opportunities to delegate tasks. You need someone to lead the meeting, someone to take notes and someone to keep time to make sure the agenda stays on track. Share the roles as much as possible and switch it up to keep people engaged and empowered.
- Create a Shared Workspace.
- Remote employees need access to the same information as everyone else on the team. With the cloud, it’s easy to share a virtual workspace containing all documents and communications pertaining to the team’s efforts. With one click, all the team’s work can be accessed from one collaborative place.
- Record the Call.
- Sometimes it’s just not possible for everyone on the call to be able to stay until the end and that’s if they are able to make it onto the call at all. Cloud-based communication and collaboration systems allow you to record the call and store it in your collaborative workspace. This, combined with the shared meeting minutes, means everyone can catch up quickly and easily.
Making the Most of Remote Working
There you have it, that’s 15 ideas you can use to help your conference calls run smoothly and efficiently. Ensuring you have the right tools and software in place is essential to effective remote working. It’s imperative that your teams can continue to collaborate, not only during these uncertain times but at any time.
Remote working comes with a variety of benefits, it helps workers save time on their commute, gives them more control over their working time and reconcile work and home life. It can save on desk space, cut office overheads, create a more agile workforce and open up a bigger talent pool too.
Speak to Porthlas
Porthlas Communications are here to help. We provide free, impartial advice, every step of the way to help you find the best solution and can deliver the perfect unified communication system with all the features necessary to ensure optimum network performance.
Furthermore, many of the systems we offer can be deployed remotely. This means we can get you up and running quickly without needing to meet face-to-face or come into direct contact with anyone.
We understand that no two businesses are the same and use our knowledge and experience to deliver secure and reliable phone systems to help you provide your customers with an experience that is second to none.
Please feel free to drop us a line to discuss your needs in more detail.