How to hold remote meetings that are effective and productive.
Checklist for team leaders
Choose your meeting software
- Look for functionality that meets your needs.
- Video and audio functions
- Screen sharing
- Breakout rooms
- Security (including encryption)
- Make sure everyone is using the same tool.
- Hold some basic training sessions to give teams an introduction to the chosen tool and best practices.
Checklist for teams
Schedule meetings thoughtfully
- Use a scheduling tool or shared calendar feature to check others’ availability.
- Add your own working hours and availability in your online calendar.
- Send invitations through the shared meeting calendar your team is using, so the meeting will appear directly on guests’ calendars and not only in their email.
- RSVP promptly to all calendar invitations so people can plan accordingly. If you can’t attend a specific instance of a recurring meeting, decline for that specific instance.
- If you need to cancel a meeting, delete the calendar event and notify all guests (most platforms have this as a feature).
- Make calendar invitations editable by all guests to decentralize meeting logistics.
- Differentiate between invitees who need to be at the meeting and those whose attendance is optional.
Prepare ahead of time
- Prepare an agenda in an editable document and share with people who will attend.
- Key talking points and how long you plan to spend on each one
- Members that will be in attendance
- What each person is responsible for contributing to the meeting
- Relevant files, links, research, etc.
- Action items will be added during the meeting
- Add the shared meeting agenda document (and other relevant materials) in the calendar link so everyone can access it in advance.
- Provide a dial-in option for guests who won’t be able to use video.
Stay on task
- Take shared notes during the meeting – everyone adds their own notes and action items to ensure accuracy and equal distribution of note-taking responsibility.
- Adhere to the predetermined agenda or structure for the meeting, and sidebar other conversations for another time.
- Make sure every person knows their role and responsibility for the meeting. If they don’t have one, they may not need to attend.
- Before ending the meeting, make sure everyone knows:
- Action items and who will do them
- When deliverables are due
- Logistics for the next meeting
Use meeting tools effectively
- Default to keeping your video on during meetings, if at all possible. Meetings are faster and more productive when people can use non-verbal cues.
- If you’re having trouble hearing someone in a meeting, stop them using visual cues (e.g., raise your hand or point to your ear). Don’t wait until they finish talking.
- Mute when you are not speaking.
- Use the meeting chat feature to add supporting comments or side questions.
- If you have connectivity issues during the meeting, try:
- Adjusting video quality settings (example from Google Meet)
- Turning off video
- Dialing in
Show respect to others
- Show up on time and end on time.
- Start with introductions if some guests don’t know others.
- Refer to the shared agenda document to make sure everyone’s items are addressed.
- Don’t stare at your phone or be obviously distracted while others are presenting.
- To make sure quiet people get heard, “pass” the conversation in a way that allows everyone time to speak.
Make space to be human
- Schedule meetings with a little time to spare at the end (e.g., 25 instead of 30 min) to allow people to transition or take small breaks.
- Encourage some small talk at the beginning of the meeting to foster connection among distributed team members.
- Normalize human activities that must sometimes happen during remote calls (i.e., eating, getting a package delivery, dealing with interruptions by children). People should feel comfortable to do these things while on mute.
Avoid having too many meetings
- Document work and status updates in a central location so anyone can review asynchronously without the need for a meeting.
- Block time in your schedule for “focused work” as a calendar event – preventing others from scheduling meetings on top of it.
- Cancel recurring meetings when they are no longer productive or necessary.
- Do not schedule meetings for status updates or quick questions – first, see if you can find out by pinging someone in chat or checking the Single Source of Truth.
- Do schedule structured meetings for specific, predetermined purposes.
- Meetings and meeting tools (18F)
- Scheduling Meetings (GitLab)
- New and changing patterns for digital working (Ben Holliday)
- All-Remote Meetings (GitLab)
- Tips for video conferencing (CISA)
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