Remote team meetings are becoming commonplace as technology changes the way people work. As your organization becomes more flexible and mobile organization, it’s not unusual to have meeting participants dialing in via web or teleconference.
As meeting hosts and participants, we need to recognize that remote meetings require different skills and habits. To help everyone get the most out of your meeting time, follow these etiquette tips:
Meeting Host Etiquette
1. When scheduling any meeting, set up a conference line so that employees always have the option to participate remotely if necessary.
2. If you will be sharing documents during the meeting, plan ahead and send files to any colleagues who will be participating remotely. Alternately, consider hosting a web-meeting so you can display information for remote participants to see in real-time.
3. If there are more than two or three people in the physical meeting, make a habit of stating your name when you speak to help avoid confusion about who is talking. Encourage all meeting participants to do the same.
4. When appropriate, create a visual reminder that remote participants are on the line. This can be as simple as folding a piece of paper into a table tent and writing down the callers’ names in bold lettering that everyone can see.
5. Encourage participation from remote team members. People sitting on the other end of a phone line have no way of signaling to the group that they’d like to speak. If there aren’t any natural lulls in the conversation for the caller to jump in, it’s up to you to pause and ask them to weigh in.
6. Manage engagement. When possible, have remote team members lead a portion of the call so that they have an active role. Or, stop occasionally to check in with remote employees to ensure they are tracking with everything that is being discussed.
7. If there are several remote employees on the line, ask them to mute their phone lines when they are not talking in order to minimize background noise. Remind callers not to put the call on hold since the rest of the participants will hear the hold music.
Remote Participant Etiquette
1. Find a quiet space and join the meeting from somewhere free of loud background noise. If you are attending a web meeting, be sure that your location has reliable internet access.
2. Be aware that laptop microphones, headsets, and cellphones can introduce echo or audio issues, causing distractions during the meeting. If sound issues are a problem, you may need to mute your audio unless you are speaking.
3. Give the remote meeting your full attention. Ask yourself: If it’s not important for me to be engaged in the meeting, is it important for me to participate at all? Stay out of your email. If you find yourself multitasking and losing track of the conversation, it may help to walk away from your desk during meetings.
4. If you have something to contribute or missed something that someone said, be sure to jump in rather than waiting to be asked. Meeting facilitators cannot read your body language and may not recognize the need to pause.
5. Announce yourself each time you talk so that everyone on the call is clear about who is speaking.
Of course, all ordinary meeting guidelines apply. Start the meeting on time, be clear about objectives, send (and read) relevant information in advance, and follow-up promptly with a post-meeting email to confirm takeaways and next steps.
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