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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9 Tips for Running a Successful Meeting with Remote Workers
9 Tips for Running
a Successful Meeting with Remote Workers
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
9 WAYS TO ROCK
THE REMOTE MEETING
American business people
hold about 25 million
meetings a day.
say they would choose
a pay raise.
say allowing telework
has a high impact on
15 to 45%
reported by different
companies that allow
employees to work from home.
Source: Global Workplace Analytics
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
Source: Bain & Company
AVERAGE AMOUNT OF COLLECTIVE TIME
SPENT IN COMPANY MEETINGS15%
AMOUNT OF TIME SENIOR EXECUTIVES
DEVOTE TO MEETINGS
AMOUNT OF ATTENDEE’S TIME CONSUMED
BY ONE COMPANY’S WEEKLY SENIOR
AMOUNT OF TIME SUBORDINATES IN THAT
COMPANY SPENT IN PREPARATION AND
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
Saved the company
Source: Harvard Business Review
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.
SET NO CLEAR
PURPOSE OR AGENDA
INVITED PEOPLE WHO
DID NOT NEED TO ATTEND
OF THE MEETING TIME
Common mistakes of meeting leaders:
Source: Worker Survey by Robert Half Management Resources
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
9 OUT OF 10
people daydream in meetings.
take notes to appear as if they are listening.
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
Most professionals who meet on a regular basis admit that they do the following:
BRING OTHER WORK TO MEETINGS 73%
MISS PARTS OF MEETINGS 95%
MISS MEETINGS 96%
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
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.
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
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
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,
– Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
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
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
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.
Source: Doodle Blog
PEOPLE SPEND ALMOST FOUR FULL DAYS
PER CALENDAR YEAR COORDINATING APPOINTMENTS.
IT TAKES APPROXIMATELY 17 MINUTES
FOR PEOPLE TO SET UP AN APPOINTMENT.
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
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
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 ShoreTel.com
or call 1.844.ShoreTe(l) (844.746.7383).