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
    • Recording
    • 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.


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