Business meetings are an integral part of working life. They are used to develop ideas, exchange concerns, present information and make decisions. But meetings also tend to have a reputation for going off track, dragging on unnecessarily or boring attendees to distraction. With virtual meetings it is even more important to remain focused and engage all attendees.
Knowing how to communicate well in meetings – especially if you are chairing the meeting – is vital for making them efficient and productive. Here are 7 ways to use your communication skills effectively in your next virtual meeting.
1. Be on time
Nothing says that a meeting is not important more than turning up late to it. Log in early so that you're there as other attendees arrive. Not sticking to the allocated time schedule in a meeting also shows a lack of respect for other people's time.
Be aware of the message that you are sending.
2. Stay on topic
An agenda should be driven by action and sent to attendees in advance. If an item comes up for discussion that is not on the agenda make a note to discuss it during General Business or schedule it in for another time.
3. Engage with your voice
The energy in your voice can give clues to the message that you are sending.
- Are you delivering your point with confidence?
- Does your message sound positive or negative?
- How can you use your voice inflections to emphasise your point?
- What feeling is your tone of voice reflecting?
4. Choose your words carefully
Your choice of words and language in a virtual meeting can sometimes persuade opinions to go in your favour or do the reverse. Be mindful when choosing your words and avoid language that makes assumptions or discriminates.
5. Be aware of your body language and facial expressions
Body language is just as important as verbal communication. It provides clues to your attitude and state of mind – be conscious of the message that you're sending with your body language. It's easy to forget that others can see your body language, especially your facial expressions during a virtual meeting.
- Are you slouching in your chair?
- Are you using eye contact well?
- Are your arms crossed defensively?
- Are you looking bored or distracted?
Positive body language and facial expressions can help you to engage with your colleagues. Negative body language and facial expressions may result in your colleagues disengaging from the purpose of the meeting.
6. Actively listen
When you are not speaking make sure that you are practising good listening skills. Communication is a two-way process. Actively listening to your colleagues can help you to better understand and communicate with them.
7. Avoid distractions
Following the agenda and staying within the timeframe of each action point will help you to stay focused. Have water at hand to remain hydrated and put into place any measures that you may need to ensure that you avoid external distractions. This could be as simple as placing a sign on your door (and closing the door) to indicate you're in a meeting.
Good virtual meetings require good participants and good leaders. All attendees should be prepared and ready to communicate effectively in order to make the meeting as productive and constructive as possible.
What tips can you share that you've found useful when communicating in virtual meetings?