How Can Remote Meetings Be Improved in 2020? remote meetings

Updated Oct 9th, 2020 by   Nicolas Zenker

In 2020, there have been two monumental changes to the working environment: remote work and virtual meetings.

With social distancing regulations in place across the globe, our living rooms have become home offices, conference rooms and training centers, while video conferencing platforms have become as much of a home working necessity as an internet connection. The most popular of these platforms – Zoom – was downloaded 2.13 million times on March 23 alone.

Thanks, COVID-19.

Although remote meetings have taken over our lives, that doesn’t mean we’ve collectively become any more effective at them. The tell-tale signs are usually apparent among meeting participants: the guy who is very obviously replying to his emails, the girl who thinks she’s being subtle while refreshing Twitter off-camera, the one over-engaged person hogging the microphone for a 15-minute monologue…

As for trying to schedule them in the first place? Let’s not even go there. Except, don’t worry, we’re 100% going to go there.
Welcome to the new normal. If we’re going to keep this up long-term, as looks to be the case, we need to get better at organizing and managing our remote meetings.

AppointmentThing is here to help. We’ve contributed our two cents to the debate around how we can improve remote meetings going forward below.

Scheduling

How many meetings do you have in the average week? Chances are, in the age of COVID-19, this figure has gone up pretty considerably.

Without the need to travel between locations, schedule meetings throughout the day or even wait five minutes for the client who is running a little late, we can end up scheduling meetings one after the other to accommodate our various contacts. This can leave us feeling like we’re jumping from one completely different conversation to another without the time to take a breath. Maybe we didn’t realize how good we had it.

Scheduling remote meetings is about time management-a subject we’ll return to in a little while. It’s important to leave time buffers between meetings to unwind from the previous conversation and adequately prepare for the next one without stretching yourself too thin.

You also don’t want to spend half your time scheduling meetings and the other half in them, particularly if you don’t have an assistant to juggle your calendar for you. Using an efficient system like AppointmentThing can help minimize the time you spend on meeting admin, leaving you enough time to get on with your work as well.

Participation

Engaging meeting participants-especially in group meetings and large conferences-is a continual challenge. The more people there are, the more inclined they are to feel like blending in. This results in the person leading the meeting feeling as though they are talking to a brick wall. No one’s listening, no one’s talking… the whole thing becomes a waste of time.

  • Be direct: Start by introducing or welcoming everyone individually. As well as breaking the ice, particularly if the participants aren’t familiar with one another, this makes everyone feel visible and involved. You can keep this up throughout the call by asking direct questions to individual participants.
  • Keep things concise: More on this later. Be aware of how much you are talking. If you ramble on with no end in sight, no matter how interesting the subject may be, people will begin to voluntarily switch off. People’s attention spans can only take so much.
  • Be human: Don’t be afraid to show your softer side-within reason, of course. From interrupting toddlers to barking dogs to a flash of pajama shorts paired with a shirt and suit jacket, COVID-19 has broken down the barriers between our ‘work selves’ and home life. The bottom line? Human beings are more engaging than corporate robots.

Time management

Eesh. This is a big one. Inefficient, poorly organized and overly long remote meetings are nearly as big of a COVID-19 staple as face masks. To keep things on track, it’s crucial that the person leading the meeting is acutely aware of time management.

Manage expectations

Define how long the call needs to be before it starts. There’s nothing more demoralizing than a meeting running over time and everyone feeling like they can’t take any more information. If your meeting is expected to run over an hour, for example, letting participants know ahead of time gives them a chance to mentally prepare, ring-fence their own time, make a cup of coffee, let the dog out and generally be ready to engage for that length of time.

Set an agenda

Time management and structure go hand in hand. Create an itemized agenda ahead of time and where possible, make it available to all participants. This ties in with managing people’s expectations and helping them prepare for the meeting. It also discourages people from going off on tangents if they can see what needs to be covered in the allocated time.

Use timers when necessary

This isn’t applicable for everything. If there are three people in the remote meeting, timing everyone’s contributions is frankly a little awkward. However, if you’re expecting inputs from lots of different people and need to make sure things stay on track, timers can be critical in managing this.

Also be on time!

The same rules apply as for in-person meetings: don’t waste someone’s time, particularly if you’re trying to impress them. You can set reminders and notifications for all participants, so nobody is caught off guard by a meeting they forgot, and if you’re running a little late be sure to make everyone aware at least ten minutes in advance.

Use AppointmentThing

AppointmentThing is the easiest way to schedule and manage your remote meetings and bookings. Our solution puts you back in control of your own calendar and helps you be more effective when communicating with clients, collaborators and staff. Simply define your availability with time buffers, various meeting types and more. Share a link to your booking page with contacts and allow them to schedule meetings with you in seconds.

Get started with a FREE 14-day Pro trial of AppointmentThing. No credit card required, super-easy set up.

Sign up for appointment scheduling from AppointmentThing.

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  • Customize appointment reminders
  • Customize appointment page design
  • Ask custom questions on appointment page
  • Customize colors on embeddable widgets
  • Include "Marketing consent" checkbox for users
  • Zapier integrations (coming soon)
  • Priority support

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Hi there 👋

We made AppointmentThing available to everyone on June 1st. Thanks so much for trying it out!

Prior to the launch, we were busy testing.. testing.. testing, correcting, then more testing.. testing.. testing and correcting.

Upcoming changes
Over the next couple of months, we’ll be gathering user feedback and (of course) be using the tools ourselves. Our testing and correcting will continue, and during this time we hope to learn a lot about the following:

  • What would be nice to have
  • What we need to improve right away
  • What needs a bit more explanation
  • Any issues or anything not working correctly

As a result, you’ll probably see us moving things around a bit: changing labels here and there, adding new functionality and options, updating tutorials, etc. It’s all part of the process.

How you can help
If you experience any issues or bugs, please let us know about them by sending an email to todos@appointmentthing.com. Also, please share anything you think we could improve upon or new functionality you wish we had.

Thanks :)