5 tips for effective communication in virtual meetings

Making meetings in the home office effective

In this article you will learn how you can effectively organize your meetings in the home office and have the chance to get individual feedback on your communication patterns.

A lot has changed in the year 2020. Companies that were previously critical of the home office have shifted work to the four walls of the home. And employees, for whom Zoom and Microsoft Teams were previously foreign words, learned to create breakout sessions and applaud virtually. In the meantime, working in the home office has become part of everyday life for many. Get up, make a quick coffee, and bang – the first online meeting begins. Often it doesn’t stop at this one meeting, but one virtual meeting follows the next. A short “Can you hear me?” as a welcome greeting, a quick discussion of the most important contents, and on we go. An international study proves: In the Corona pandemic, the number of meetings rose by almost 13 percent (DeFilippis et al., 2020).

But how can these virtual meetings in particular be organized effectively?

1. It’s time to chat!

In times of a pandemic, social life must be shut down – in the end, this means We all spend much more time at home. This not only leads to a few more corona pounds but also carries the risk of loneliness (Bentley et al., 2016; Cascio, 2000). No matter how much one likes virtual work – the nice chat in the coffee kitchen is missing in the long run. It is therefore advisable to make the best of the situation and to consciously take time for informal exchange with colleagues. Have you ever thought about a virtual beer after work or a common Zoom cake dinner?

2. Brevity is the spice.

Not only has the number of meetings increased in the Corona pandemic but also the general working time has risen by an average of 48.5 minutes (DeFilippis et al., 2020). Even before the pandemic, busy schedules are therefore not necessarily emptier now. It is therefore advisable to set a clear agenda for the meeting and to work through it stringently. That way, you will spare everyone’s diaries. Wait a minute – doesn’t tip 1 say that you should take more time for your colleagues? Correct! However, working within your own four walls makes it especially difficult to separate work and private life. Try to end the working day at a fixed time in your home office, too, then you can enjoy the exchange of time at the end of the day much more.

3. Time is Money.

Meetings cost a lot of money. Statistics show that around 73 billion was spent on poorly organized meetings in Germany in 2019 (Doodle, 2019). In times of a pandemic, when schedules are full and finances are tight, it is once again worth considering the relevance of meetings and preparing them well.

Before you send out your meeting invitation, it is recommended to answer the following questions:

  • Is the meeting relevant?
  • Who can contribute to the content of the meeting, and who can be informed by a follow-up e-mail?

4. Show yourself.

You’ve been wanting to tidy up for weeks, a visit to the hairdresser has been a bit longer and in your sweatpants, it’s most comfortable at your desk anyway? Nevertheless, you should show your face in virtual meetings and turn on your camera. On the one hand, facial expressions and facial mimics are central for communicating emotions. On the other hand, this also gives you a good reason to tidy up and get yourself ready.

5. Mix and match – suitable tools for suitable tasks

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Co. have become our constant companions in the working world. But have you ever thought about the boring virtual meetings through a change of digital tools to loosen up? For example Mentimeter the possibility to carry out anonymous surveys in real-time and Miro teams can work together on a pin board and visualize work progress.

A variety of tools not only makes collaboration more varied and exciting but also offers meeting participants the opportunity to live out their own communication strengths.

These five tips provide just a few of the incentives to make your virtual meetings more effective. Make the most of virtual collaboration and get creative – this not only makes working at home more effective but also makes it much more fun!

Literature

Bentley, T. A., Teo, S. T. T., McLeod, L., Tan, F., Bosua, R., & Gloet, M. (2016). The role of organisational support in teleworker wellbeing: A socio-technical systems approach. Applied Ergonomics, 52, 207–215. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2015.07.019

Cascio, W. F. (2000). Managing a virtual workplace. Academy of Management Perspectives, 14(3), 81–90. https://doi.org/10.5465/ame.2000.4468068

DeFilippis, E., Impink, S. M., Singell, M., Polzer, J. T., & Sadun, R. (2020). Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work. National Bureau of Economic Research. https://www.nber.org/papers/w27612

Doodle. (2019). The state of meetings report. https://meeting-report.com/

Lioba Gierke ist Psychologin und promoviert aktuell an der WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management im Bereich "Leadership". In ihrer Forschung befasst sie sich mit dem Einfluss der Digitalisierung auf die Kommunikation im Arbeitskontext. Dabei erforscht sie, wie insbesondere virtuelle Meetings effektiv gestaltet werden können. Wenn auch Sie Ihre Meetings verbessern möchten, dann nehmen Sie gerne an der aktuellen Studie des Lehrstuhls für Personalführung teil. Mehr Informationen finden Sie unter www.whu.edu/online-meetings

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