We are all familiar with a bad remote meeting. The one where you don’t know what the meeting is about, no one comes prepared, only a few get the chance to speak, and as a result, not everyone focuses on the meeting.
But, we also know that remote meetings are important. It allows you to brainstorm new ideas, provide feedback, and have social conversations. So, you must ditch the ingredients of a bad meeting and follow the etiquette of a productive meeting.
Throughout my 3+ years of running a remote company, I have practiced these five meeting etiquettes for engaged and productive meetings:
1. Prepare (and follow) a meeting agenda
You must notify every participant why all of you’re attending the meeting and its importance. Else, everyone will come unprepared. You’ll lose hours discussing the objective and ensuring everyone is productive throughout.
To avoid this, document a meeting agenda on a shared database like Notion and distribute it to every participant. In it, mention the purpose of the meeting, the context to help people prepare for the meeting, the topics you’ll address, the goal of the meeting, the number of participants, their responsibilities, and how everyone should prepare for the meeting.
Make sure everyone (including you) follows the meeting agenda.
2. Come prepared
So, now you know the meeting objective and what you’re responsible for, ensure you attend the meeting knowing what you’ll speak. Prepare meeting notes on a Google Doc. Write the topic conversations (you’ll focus on), suggestions (back them with data), and reference materials (any slides or websites you’ll show the attendees).
Rehearse your notes—so you don’t stumble and deviate from your topics. Also, be prepared to answer any questions related to your conversation. Just ideate a list of questions you think people can ask you and construct your answers. You can even show your meeting notes to someone and ask them what questions they might have. Ready your answers accordingly.
3. Nail your surroundings
Do you want the meeting participants to see your untidy room, unmade beds, or family members constantly passing by? It’s as bad a first impression can get. These are distractions for everyone, which will affect the meeting’s productivity. Hence, be aware of your surroundings for a distraction-free meeting.
Here are some things you should do:
a) Sit in a well-lit room and set your camera angle such that your face is visible to everyone.
b) Your coworkers won’t like a baby crying, traffic noise, or pets barking. So, choose a meeting place free of background noise. Use Krisp to eliminate background noise.
c) Ensure your background is clean and tidy: No messy rooms or littered food packets. You can even blur the background or use virtual backgrounds.
d) Inform your family members about your meeting timing and ask them not to roam by during that time. Also, request them to be quiet.
e) You don’t want to solve your audio/video/internet problems in the middle of a conversation and waste everyone’s time, do you? So, test your microphone, internet connection, and video quality 30 minutes before the meeting.
4. Ensure you’re having a two-way conversation
Meeting, by definition, is when two or more people assemble to discuss a topic. It’s not a one-way communication where only one participant speaks without allowing others to speak. If you don’t want others to talk, why would you even invite them? So, introduce yourselves one by one and let everyone present their views.
Things you should do for this to happen:
a) Have a meeting facilitator who can ensure everyone gets a chance to speak and nobody takes time away from others.
b) Start with your introduction before you put forth your ideas. Speak clearly and loud enough to be heard.
c) Actively participate and listen when others talk. That means fixing your non-verbal cues: maintain eye contact, don’t tap your keyboard or feet, nod to communicate you’re understanding what they are talking about, and be attentive.
Pro Tip: Mute yourselves when others talk.
d) Never interrupt when others speak. Wait for them to complete their discussion, and then you can ask your questions.
5. Conclude by summarizing the key takeaways
Before you conclude the meeting, go through what you discussed and the next steps of action—so everyone is aligned with their roles and responsibilities after the meeting.
Host a Q&A to solve anyone’s queries. Be courteous and empathetic to repeat yourself for those who ask for it.