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11 Tips to improve remote meetings

As working in a distributed team is becoming more of the norm, remote meetings are increasingly becoming central to the way we collaborate and develop our projects. We had earlier blogged with tips and methods for the remote worker to continue to get the most out of Agile and ways to avoid “face time bias” on a distributed team. In this post I will zone in on tips to improve remote meetings, that I’ve found helpful to get the most out of this key communication mechanism. Some may seem basic, but are worth reiterating:

  1. Share the agenda of the meeting in advance : Knowing the main theme and talking points of the meeting in advance helps making a meeting productive and participatory. This may be restating the obvious, but if we could get a penny for every “generic” meeting...but often in haste meeting invitations end up being highly generic.

  2. Take minutes : Share meeting notes with action items, to get the most out of your meeting.

  3. Setup and configure your devices prior to the meeting: Take time to configure and test that your microphones, video cameras, meeting software works correctly, before the meeting.

  4. Report if you cannot hear and / or see the person speaking : Don’t shy away from saying it.

  5. Participate in meetings as a remote assistant : To help you understand and "feel" the problems usually remote attendees have.

  6. Mute your microphone when you're not talking : Echoes, dogs barking, co-workers chatting, honking traffic. Enough said!

  7. When sitting with a group of participants, repeat any question by the group, for the benefit of the remote audience: Microphones aren’t great at picking up content from those not physically near them, so if you’re in a group, as a moderator/meeting organizer, do repeat the question.

  8. Establish Q&A checks at regular intervals: Especially when met with stony silence.

  9. Avoid having side conversations: We all get miffed with them (except when we’re a part of them). Keep all chatter for the coffee breaks.

  10. Focus! : Personal phones, tablets, browsing, that tweet….can wait.

  11. Facilitate participation from everyone: Avoid proxy-speak and encourage everyone to be a part of the meeting.

Hope these tips help. Do add a comment with your favorite “meeting-gripe”!