The move to remote work due to COVID-19 has sped up digitalization in every workplace. Agency owners and project managers must be adept at organizing efficient virtual meetings with employees, clients, teams, and other stakeholders to keep the organization's goals on track and meet deadlines. But, of course, problems with virtual meetings can arise.
Regardless of the industry or region you operate in, virtual meetings are critical to project management success. Virtual meetings help business leaders, professional services agencies, and project managers achieve cross-functional collaboration, deliver better project outcomes, and build talented, creative, and technical teams across multiple time zones.
However, just because virtual meetings are easy to set up and not limited by geography and travel time doesn't mean leaders and managers should abuse access to others' time and work hours. Leaders should remember to consider how do virtual meetings work, and act accordingly. Zoom fatigue, a term coined and popularized during the COVID-19 mandatory work from home period, can be explained as mental exhaustion that occurs when people have to participate in several virtual meetings for an extended period.
It's also advisable that leaders and project managers factor in the availability and mental well-being of teammates and employees in order to avoid the common challenges of virtual meetings.
Challenges of virtual meetings and how to fix them
The various challenges of virtual meetings can be solved easily with preparation and practice. By spending time beforehand to prepare technical contingency plans and video conferencing guidelines for your organization or team, you can overcome online meeting problems and maintain high team morale and productivity.
Below are several recurring challenges of virtual meetings and smart solutions you can implement to solve them and lead beneficial calls and meetings.
Zoom fatigue and reduced productivity
We defined the term "Zoom fatigue" in the introduction, and it is indeed one of the most significant problems with online meetings. Because virtual calls and meetings are comparatively easy to set up, some leaders and project managers may abuse their accessibility.
However, employees in creative and technical roles like design, writing, and software development work well in flow states. When they're pulled into too many virtual meetings, their productivity and output start to drop.
The solution to this issue with virtual meetings is simple: Schedule fewer meetings. As a project manager, you can choose to batch meetings with specific departments on specific days, limit meeting duration, and use collaborative workspaces like Wrike to handle quick questions and updates.
Technical issues and losing time
Technology can be managed but not controlled. With the best setup and practice sessions, you may still find yourself facing technical challenges in virtual meetings.
The best solution to this recurring challenge in virtual meetings is to have a tested backup plan. As project manager, you should send out the details for the backup plan along with other relevant information and agendas for your meetings.
This way, if you face technical challenges, you and other attendees can quickly switch to the backup conferencing plan without loss of time in your meeting schedule. Ensure that attendees are familiar with the virtual meeting options you use.
Virtual meetings are limited to audio and visual cues, unlike in-person meetings where body language, tone of voice, pacing, and gestures add to a speaker's words.
Here are several steps that can solve recurring virtual meeting challenges and help you communicate your key points clearly.
- Distribute a clear, concise meeting agenda beforehand. This clarifies to attendees what they can expect from the meeting and when they’d be required to participate.
- Create slide decks for your presentation. This solves one of the major problems with virtual meetings: eliminating monotony and ensuring that attendees follow key meeting points.
- Ask everyone to mute their microphones when they aren't speaking and sit in quiet areas during the call.
- Use file and screen-sharing tools to engage attendees and remember to call each person by name when you need a response or contribution from them.
- Stick to the meeting plan. Don't allow colleagues or teammates to ramble on and deviate from the agenda or prolong the meeting. If your teammates know you lead actionable meetings, they're likely to show up prepared and with more energy and focus.
- Always end your virtual meetings with exact action items for every attendee. Before you adjourn your session, ask each person for their next steps to ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities.
Distant time zones
Sometimes, your virtual meeting attendees may include teammates, clients, or stakeholders from other continents and time zones.
As the project manager, you may fall into the habit of prioritizing yours and your team's time and schedules, but it's wise to factor in other attendees as well. Spend time thinking of how you can make it convenient for everyone to join in at a reasonable hour, especially if it's a recurring meeting.
When you schedule the most convenient time for everyone involved, you show that they are valued and considered. This creates an atmosphere of better virtual meetings, motivated teams, and an overall increased chance of success.
Make your problems with virtual meetings a thing of the past with Wrike
Transitioning from in-person to remote meetings can take a lot of time to adjust to. Luckily, Wrike helps teams organize meeting notes, create and assign tasks, track project progress, and manage team workloads.
Try our tips for dealing with the challenges of virtual meetings and then get started with our flexible, robust, and collaborative work management software. Sign up for a free two-week trial today to get started!