Plenty of companies, large and small, have team members scattered across the globe, and it’s not always easy to get them together for every important meeting. This, of course, has given rise to the use of virtual meeting technology. But anyone who has ever participated in a virtual meeting knows that they’re just not the same.
When you meet or talk with someone in person, you pick up nonverbal cues that simply aren’t as obvious on a screen. In fact, some researchers believe that communication is 55% body language and facial cues. So, if you’re halfway across the world from the rest of your team, you could be missing half of the conversation.
Meeting in a single location automatically sets a tone for the participants—one they can feel, even if they can’t describe it. They’ll tap into a well of camaraderie, feed off other team member’s enthusiasm, and even subconsciously work to bridge misunderstandings that crop up and are communicated in a non-verbal way.
All of this can be lost on the team member that’s a million miles away, giving that person a very different sense of how the meeting is going. If one or more of your team has to call the next meeting in, there are things your co-located team can do to help:
- Put the most important points of the meeting at the top of the agenda and keep discussion around them brief and succinct. It can be difficult to follow a discussion with the time-delays and lack of visual cues inherent in a virtual connection. Keeping things short and to the point will increase the chances that the right information is relayed to the offsite team member.
- Establish some ground rules for times when someone will be joining the meeting virtually. Ideas include: turning off cell phones and one-at-a-time contributions (it can be extremely difficult to decipher who is talking when you’re not in the same room, particularly if the participant is phoning in).
- Make sure everyone knows how to work the virtual meeting technology you’ve chosen. Glitches and hang-ups notwithstanding, you’ll increase the confidence, and therefore the meaningful contributions, of everyone involved if technology doesn’t hamper discussion.
It’s always best for teams to meet in person in a creative and interesting space. Even if you can’t get the whole team there for your next meeting, bring those who can meet in person to Blue Ocean. We’ll help make sure that everyone in attendance has what he or she needs to be truly productive.