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9 Tips for Running a Successful Meeting with Remote Workers


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Some things never change, like the fact that as long as there are companies there will always be meetings. And yet, some things do change, like the way we meet. As the workplace continues to become more global and mobile, meetings have evolved from face-face discourse in a central location, to conference calls that use the latest technology to include remote attendees. So how do you successfully host a remote meeting?

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Published in: Leadership & Management
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9 Tips for Running a Successful Meeting with Remote Workers

  1. 1. Share this: 9 Tips for Running a Successful Meeting with Remote Workers
  2. 2. Share this: The amount of meetings I’ve been in—people would be shocked. But that’s how you gain experience, how you can gain knowledge, being in meetings and participating. You learn and grow. – Tiger Woods MAKING MEETING MAGIC 9 WAYS TO ROCK THE REMOTE MEETING
  3. 3. Share this: Source: Inc. 25MILLION American business people hold about 25 million meetings a day. 36% OF EMPLOYEES say they would choose telecommuting over a pay raise. 95% OF EMPLOYERS say allowing telework has a high impact on employee retention. 15 to 45% INCREASED EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY reported by different companies that allow employees to work from home. Source: Global Workplace Analytics
  4. 4. Share this: MEETING OUT OF THE BOX GOING GLOBAL = MORE REMOTE MEETINGS The global workplace has brought us more opportunities to work out of the box, fostering innovation and enabling us to do what we do best, wherever we happen to be. Nowadays, it’s quite common for people across a range of time zones to regularly participate in remote meetings with both clients and co-workers. Some have even met remotely for years without ever meeting in person. The magic of meeting technology occurs when people inside and outside an organization can use the same meeting tool and have the same meeting experience without needing plug-ins, downloads and having to open multiple applications, as with ShoreTel Connect. In a survey conducted at the Global Leadership Summit in London in 2014, 34% of business leaders said more than half their company’s full-time workforce would be working remotely by 2020. Source: London Business School
  6. 6. Share this: Of course, while technology has brought us many wonderful and convenient ways to connect with the people we work with, the onus still lies on humans to make remote meetings engaging and productive. So how do you make sure your meetings with remote clients and employees are a success? Simply follow our nine tips and you’ll find yourself a master of the remote…meeting, that is. A recent Harvard study compared call center employees who worked at home for nine months to a group that stayed in the office. The workers at home: If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication, and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly, and with high quality. – Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group Completed 13.5% more calls Quit at HALF the rate Saved the company $1,900 per employee Source: Harvard Business Review
  7. 7. Share this: 1. GET IT RIGHT Getting the Right People on the Call A good remote meeting is one that is targeted, and by targeted we mean your meeting is focused on engaging your target – the people you invited to your meeting. We’ve all been invited to a meeting where we wondered how we might be able to politely excuse ourselves because the meeting topics are irrelevant to our role on a project. So how do you avoid this rookie mistake? Be selective. If you’re not sure whether or not someone needs to come to your meeting, call and ask ahead of time. Give him/her a heads up on the agenda and briefly describe your goals for the meeting. This quick and easy poll accomplishes several things. First, it respects people’s time and allows them to self-select whether or not they need to be included. Second, it ensures you never get a reputation as that co-worker who wastes people’s time with pointless meetings. 30% SET NO CLEAR PURPOSE OR AGENDA 14% INVITED PEOPLE WHO DID NOT NEED TO ATTEND 25% OF THE MEETING TIME WAS WASTED Common mistakes of meeting leaders: Source: Worker Survey by Robert Half Management Resources
  8. 8. Share this: 2. KEEP IT SHORT Keeping Agendas Short, Simple and Focused Now that you’ve assembled the perfect people for your meeting, give them the gift of a focused and clear agenda. Brevity is essential to a good agenda. Try to accomplish too much at once and you’ll lose your audience to whatever distractions they have on hand, which is almost always a surreptitiously silenced smartphone. Source: Source: 9 OUT OF 10 people daydream in meetings. 60% take notes to appear as if they are listening.
  9. 9. Share this: Speaking of smart, today’s savvy meeting organizers are prepared to combat waning attention spans, multi-tasking temptations and other distractions by making certain that all of the agenda topics are of interest to each participant. Sound impossible? The secret is to have shorter meetings focused on a few select topics, rather than longer meetings where participants might be interested in only one or two agenda items. Most professionals who meet on a regular basis admit that they do the following: Source: Verizon BRING OTHER WORK TO MEETINGS 73% DAYDREAM 91% MISS PARTS OF MEETINGS 95% MISS MEETINGS 96%
  10. 10. Share this: 3. HE SAID/SHE SAID Engage Attendees with Topics That Require Active Discussion A study by Dominican University showed that people who WRITE DOWN their goals, SHARE THEM with someone and SEND WEEKLY UPDATES of their progress are 33% more successful Source: Dominican University at achieving their goals than people who merely formulate their goals. Want to know what the most boring word in the world is? Lecture. Conduct one, and you could lose your audience faster than a reality show after sweeps week. Meetings are ideally suited to serve three workplace functions: addressing topics that require discussion, exploring options in order to make sound decisions, and eliminating confusion on a subject. To engage your audience, ask questions and require participation. Solicit opinions, play devil’s advocate. But by all means, get everyone on the call talking, discussing and sharing. If you do, you’ll find people will be talking about how great your meeting was long after the call is over.
  11. 11. Share this: 4. RAISE EXPECTATIONS Communicate Meeting Goals Beforehand How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things but how well we are understood. – Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel Corporation People should never disconnect from your remote meeting wondering what your point was, or what their next steps are. Make sure you have a specific agenda and goal set for each meeting. ShoreTel Connect’s meeting technology allows meeting hosts to create and share an agenda with participants, then track the agenda in real-time during the meeting. If you are not sure how to set a goal for your meeting, use the SMART method. Make sure that every goal you write down and share at your meeting is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Oriented and Time-Limited. Source: The Jury Expert Research has shown that visual aids increase both comprehension and retention of presentations, and create a higher regard of the presenter. The effect is stronger with color presentations or well-done animation, like the agenda tracking offered in ShoreTel Connect.
  12. 12. Share this: 5. PICTURE IT Maintain the 1st Commandment of PPT: More Images. Fewer Words. When used correctly, Microsoft PowerPoint® (PPT) is a wonderful tool that supports your message and enables members of the group to quickly process and retain information. Images are especially useful to a discussion when they convey information that isn’t otherwise easily understood. A good rule of thumb is to show, rather than tell, what you are trying to say. Avoid using slides that only contain text. Instead, use visuals, like graphs, diagrams, photos and media clips to engage your audience. Slides that simply recap—or worse, quote verbatim—what is being said are boring and encourage participants to check e-mail or do other work while they are being displayed. We run this company on questions, not answers. – Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
  13. 13. Share this: 6. JUST ASK Open-Ended Questions = Audience Participation The moderator (or meeting host) plays an important role in ensuring everyone on the call is participating. If you are the moderator, the best way to foster participation is to frequently ask open-ended questions and request input from specific meeting attendees. Make sure you pause the discussion periodically to give everyone a chance to speak up. And don’t be afraid of silence on a call. In fact, it’s good to ask everyone to take a moment to stop and consider a topic, gathering their thoughts so that they may share them with the group. Being a moderator is nowhere near as easy as people seemingly think. And most people are crummy at it. – Dr. Paul Kedrosky, Senior Fellow, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
  14. 14. Share this: 7. EXERCISE CONTROL Using Call Technology That Empowers Moderators Today’s meeting moderators are fortunate in that they have a suite of tools at their disposal to help them foster participation and guide discussions toward meeting goals. A few of the most popular types of VoIP conferencing tools are: Desktop Sharing to show documents, PowerPoints and software demos Web Co-Browsing so a presenter can share an online demo or other information with participants Instant Messaging that lets participants and presenters text each other (privately or publicly) during presentations Pass Control that allows another participant to share their own documents, slides, or what have you The magic happens, though, when everyone is using the same tool that offers a seamless and intuitive integration of all these functions, like ShoreTel Connect.
  16. 16. Share this: 8. SCHEDULE SMARTER Choosing the Right Time & Place There is a time and a place for everything, and the best times to hold remote meetings are sometime midweek. Try to avoid Monday morning and Friday afternoon meetings because people are more likely to be distracted by either their plans for the work-week or their plans for the weekend. If your offices are scattered across the country or world, be mindful of time-zones and check in with participants beforehand to determine ideal times for them to get together. Be sure to use remote calendars and scheduling tools to avoid stacking meetings, since people will be more likely to multi-task if they are just coming off another call or have a pressing deadline. If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got. To change our output, we must change our input. – Dr. Donald E. Wetmore, Productivity Institute Time Management Expert
  17. 17. Share this: 9. GET FEEDBACK Solicit Opinions from Meeting Attendees If you notice that certain attendees don’t seem to be actively participating, follow up with them after the meeting to understand why. Perhaps they didn’t belong in the meeting at all, or maybe they are disengaged for another reason, but whatever it is, you need to understand. Soliciting feedback not only helps you decide how to address a particular person or meeting, it will also help you uncover ways to make your meetings more effective in general. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve. – Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft
  18. 18. Share this: CALL AN EXPERT SHORETEL CAN HELP We hope our “Nine Tips” will soon help you make meeting magic. We enjoy helping people transform remote meetings into engaging and productive, discussion powerhouses with ShoreTel Connect. To learn more about ShoreTel and ShoreTel Connect, to download other related e-books and white papers, and to view product demos please visit or call 1.844.ShoreTe(l) (844.746.7383).