Tips on successful remote meetings

When leading a remote/hybrid team, coordination often takes place through remote meetings. Running and chairing remote meetings is very different to running and chairing in-person meetings. The following tips will help you become a better distance meeting chair.

7 tips on planning and chairing remote meetings

🕑 1. Book short, frequent meetings

When we are collaborating remotely, we need to ‘check in’ often. However, long meetings aren’t suited to online formats, which are more demanding for us to participate in. Short, frequent meetings, on the other hand, help maintain good working relationships, motivation (for tasks and the collaboration), set a course, create a sense of meaning and facilitate coordination.

☕ 2. Book both work-focused and more social meetings

When we don’t meet in the hallway or at the coffee machine, there is a need to ‘meet informally’ in other ways, in addition to the formal, work-focused meetings that focus on specific tasks. Coffee break meetings don’t necessarily have to be initiated by you as manager, but you should make it clear that you invite staff to hold them. You can provide the framework – and your staff can help make it come alive.

📅 3. Introduce a clear structure and a shared code of conduct

It is important that an agenda has been sent out in advance so that everyone knows the purpose of the meeting and can participate constructively on that background. If there are several items on the agenda, each item should include purpose, preparation and form.

It may also be useful to agree on a code of conduct for remote meetings:

  • What does it take to be a constructive participant in this format?
  • How can participants ‘turn up’ their body language so that others can read them on screen?
  • What are the rules if you want to say something?
  • Does the camera have to be switched on, or is it OK if only the sound is on?
  • Should you mute your microphone when you are not talking?
  • And should you use the chat function during the meeting?

💻 4. Make sure the technology works

You’ll find help and guidance on chairing and participating in remote meetings on AU’s website:

Practical tips on preparing for your meeting

  • If possible, sit in a room with pleasant, warm lighting. If this isn’t possible, at least make sure there’s enough light. Avoid backlighting and noise in the background.
  • Make sure you have a good camera and good sound.
  • You may want to use two screens so that you can see the other participants on one screen, and on the other, see the presentations, documents or videos you may share during the meeting.

If you are chairing the meeting, you may wish to have a co-chair who can handle the technical aspects during the meeting or who (in connection with hybrid meetings) can assist as chair for the in-person groups in connection with group work in breakout rooms. This will allow you as host to focus on the meeting itself and the agenda.

Tips on hybrid meetings

For staff who will participate in the same location

  • Everyone in the group should participate with their own computer
  • The group can have a shared loudspeaker and audio – for example a wireless table speaker with a microphone
  • The group can connect a computer to a larger screen, so that they can see any presentations during the meeting.
  • These staff should participate in breakout room exercises and group discussions on their own computer by turning on the audio, while others in the same space mute theirs

For staff who will participate remotely

  • Remote participants should participate with their own computer
  • It’s a good idea for them to use headphones, which provide the best sound

👁‍🗨 5. Put more emphasis on non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication at remote meetings has to be clearer and more direct. Decoding people’s facial expressions, tone of voice or body language as we do at in-person meetings is not possible in the same way. Therefore, it’s good meeting participation/co-chairing practice for the meeting participants to clearly indicate whether they understand, agree or would like to speak. It’s your responsibility as manager to provide a framework for this.

🙋🏻‍♀️ 6. Make meetings active and dynamic by involving participants

People need to be concise and to-to-the-point when presenting at remote meetings. We tend to lose our desire to listen more easily than at in-person meetings – and remote meetings require more variety (different speakers, sharing material on the screen, break-out sessions, etc.)

  • Keep your contributions short and make sure you make your point clearly
  • Involve participants by encouraging them to comment, discuss things in groups in break-out sessions or ask participants to take turns chairing the meeting
  • For example, you might want to involve employees in co-designing elements that make meetings active

➰ 7. Evaluate the meeting

It’s always a good idea to in-person as well as remote meetings. Experiment with different methods and ideas.

Focus on the question: Do the meetings result in the outcome we were hoping for or do we need to make adjustments?