Remote work is getting more and more popular, even outside the present context of a global health crisis. Statistics show that remote work grew over 44% over the last 5 years (source: Flexjobs), and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

But there is an issue most of us know all too well: whenever you have a video call meeting with more than three people, things can get chaotic fast.

Does this mean we should reserve staff meetings to in-person only? Not exactly. We just have to remember to avoid these three crucial remote meeting mistakes.

1. Not Understanding the Technology

Sure, perhaps most of us can log on to a video calling platform like Skype, Zoom or Teams without many bumps in the road, but do you know everything essencial about it? Such as, what it can and can’t do? What are the shortcuts or buttons you need to perform the actions you need during a meeting?

It can seem obvious, but many tend to skip this step because they rely on the notion that these apps are designed to be intuitive, meaning you should intuitively know where everything is. However, intuition has its limits, and it’s best to take the app for a test run before you set up the call.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is there a maximum number of people allowed to join at a time?
  • Can the microphone be muted? (and how!)
  • Can everyone on your team access the same application easily?
  • Does it have any added features, such as screen sharing?

Understanding how these programs work may even help you avoid some embarrassing mistakes, such as not realizing the mic is still on while you’re in a meeting but talking to a housemate or spouse…

2. Not Having Rules

Though everyone’s sitting in the comfort of their own home, it’s still an official meeting, so you need to set a few rules.

Remote meetings may not be so common for all companies, or all your staff, so some people may feel a bit confused. They may not know if or when they’re supposed to talk, for example. Or, they may try to get a word in, but other people are talking at the same time, and nobody can get their ideas out.

In a real-life meeting, you can see the other person talking, and know when you can intervene. But when the meeting’s online, these cues may not be so apparent. Maybe one person is looking at another tab and can’t see another team member is trying to step in. Maybe there is a lot of background noise that makes it hard to get the conversation going.

Whatever the cause for these issues, they are 100% fixable if simple rules are established so everyone can have their say. The most important rule being: everyone mute their microphones.

If you’re managing the online meeting, establish those rules clearly to everybody. Tell anyone to mute their mic during other people’s presentations, and only enable them when it’s their turn to talk. This eliminates any distracting background noises and lets everyone feel like they can get in a word without interruptions.
Ir you’re not the one managing the meeting, find a way to suggest some ground rules for meeting efficacy.

3. Neglecting about Body Language

It’s a remote video call, so people can still see you, meaning they can still see your body language. Since it’s a professional setting, you need to appear as such, so don’t put the camera at a strange angle as if you’re taking a selfie.

Ideally, you’d want the frame to capture your upper body so people can see your hand gestures and other body expression. These gestures are crucial to helping people decode the meaning of what you’re saying – it’s why we have them in the first place. Also, consider setting up your background as well, at least in terms of decluttering. Nobody on the call needs to see your laundry hanging in the back, do they?…

Over to You

Online meetings should be treated the same as regular meetings – they need structure and leadership. By avoiding these three mistakes, you can achieve just that.

To go a further and have a bigger impact in your remote communication, grab my FREE Ultimate Remote Meetings Guide and be ready to take the helm.