Ideally, you’d like to get everyone together in one hourly meeting room in a central location in London. However, that’s not always possible. Even if you can get most of your team to the venue you’ve rented for the project kick-off meeting or brainstorming session, there’s a good chance you’ll have at least one or two people attending via virtual meeting software. 

Remote meetings are the way of the not-too-distant future, which is why you should start learning how to make these virtual gatherings efficient and effective. Here are four simple rules to follow to ensure your remote meeting runs as smoothly as possible. 

#1. Agree on a standard software application 

There are many video conferencing software options out there. But you need to figure out which one works best for you and your meeting attendees. And then you need to stick to it. You don’t want to be having an argument with a creative five minutes before the meeting because they’ve recently discovered an unheard of video conferencing app that they want to support (because it’s owned by their bestie). In order for remote meetings to work, you all need to be comfortable with the platform you’re using. Having one program that you all use for all your virtual business dealings will prevent many meetings starting late because one person hasn’t downloaded the app yet. 

#2. Be wary of timezones

If you have team members from all over the country or even the globe, you need to think about what time it is on their side before setting a meeting. Nobody wants to wake up at 5:30 am, let alone be prepared for a meeting at that time. If it means that you have to work a little later (or earlier) in the day to ensure that everyone is able to access the meeting, then do so. If people are forced to stay up late at night or wake up ridiculously early, they won’t be able to contribute as much as you’d like to the meeting. It’s as simple as checking a world clock to find out what time it is in your meeting attendees’ part of the world. 

#3. Have a rule about where people are allowed to be during the meeting

Being able to “call it in” when it comes to a meeting is great. It means that people don’t have to travel in traffic to reach a destination and can connect to the meeting from wherever they are. The problem comes in when someone decides to attend the remote meeting from the comfort of their favourite coffee shop in Greenwich, which seems to be buzzing for 11 am on a Tuesday. If people are trying to talk over massive background noise, you’re going to have a lot of miscommunication. Ensure that everyone who is virtually attending the meeting has a quiet and private space from which they can connect. You wouldn’t want random members of the public walking in and out of your meeting, so don’t allow people to attend the meeting from a public place where strangers can listen in on your video call.

#4. Keep remote meeting etiquette “rules”

Before you host your first remote meeting, create a list of rules that encourage certain etiquette. Attach that list to your meeting invite to ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done to make sure the meeting is productive and efficient. And after each remote meeting going forward, you can revisit that list and add and remove rules where you see fit. To start with, include the following as simple remote meeting etiquette:

●      Everyone is to be on time, every time. 

●      Introduce yourself before speaking. 

●      Mute your mic while others are speaking.  

●      Switch notifications off for emails or apps on your computer or cell phone. 

●      Do not multitask during the meeting. 

●      Ensure your internet connection is strong enough long before the meeting commences. 

●      Don’t move around, even if you’re using your cell phone. It’s visually distracting to others.  

Many etiquette rules for meetings change when you have people attending from a remote location. However, some rules remain the same. Interrupting people is strongly discouraged, listen intently and make notes if you have questions and ask them at the end of the meeting. You should also insist that no one shows up to a meeting in their pajamas, nobody wants to see that. As with in-person meetings, professionalism is always expected. You may not be in the office or at the venue, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to behave as if you are.