For many companies in 2021, virtual Board meetings are a necessity. They support vital communication and allow your team to collaborate while hundreds of miles apart.

Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool to simplify the process of virtual meetings. The video conferencing software allows you to exchange ideas without having to fly everyone into one place. Throughout the pandemic, many have adopted the software as a new standard for communication.

Although this comes with many priceless benefits, the new format for meetings may present new challenges. We’ve put together some key tips for running an impactful remote meeting with Microsoft Teams:

1.  Preparation

When it comes to remote meetings, preparation is key. Send out the materials well in advance and make sure everyone can access them with time to spare. If your team receives their Board packs too late, they will not have time to read them thoroughly before the meeting starts.

You should also be aware of the legal expectations for online meetings. This varies between countries and companies, so will be individual to your team. Before organising an online meeting, you should know your company’s security standards for storing documents and sharing information.

2.  Minimise Distractions

One thing to take into account is that everyone is working from a different environment. When you are in a boardroom, interruptions can be instantly controlled. This is more difficult when your Board members are hundreds of miles apart in their own homes.

As a result, everyone in the meeting has to make an effort. Guide your team in establishing an effective remote working space. You may wish to share tips on working from home, so they can prepare for these challenges. Additionally, establish a point of contact for any issues like loss of connection or difficulty accessing the documents.

It’s also important to pay attention to your Board members’ individual needs. For example, make sure you check the time zones of your team! A meeting at 9 am GMT will take place at 5 am EST, which would leave some members at a disadvantage. By catering for everyone, you can help them feel as if they were in one room.

3.  Change Your Background

This might seem obvious but when you’re in an in-person boardroom, everyone has the same background. This is difficult to maintain while working from home and can create challenges.

Some people may have a distracting setup while others may not want to showcase their home for personal reasons. Luckily, Microsoft Teams allows you to hide your background. You can blur the existing image or upload a new picture. 

The feature is fully customisable so you can use one of the images provided by Teams or your own. This could be a photo of your in-office workspace or a branded image of your company logo. To use this feature, select your background before starting the meeting on the ‘Background Effects’ menu.

4.  Control Your Users

As virtual boardrooms make communication so easy, there’s a temptation to send out numerous invites. Make sure not to invite people who don’t need to be there. This will help streamline your meeting process and save time by avoiding interruptions.

This is also crucial from a security standpoint. Although digital board meetings are more secure than in-person meetings, you still have to take precautions. Make sure not to share sensitive documents on a public chat if you do not want every member to access them. 

5.  Make The Most of Teams’ Meeting Features

Many think of Teams as a simple video conferencing software. Although it excels at this, there are many other features that you can benefit from. These functions may even help you to improve on your face-to-face processes.

For example, the Hand Raise feature can allow your team to raise points in an orderly manner. They will not disrupt the flow of the speaker as a vocal interruption would.  Additionally, you can take advantage of shared communication tools like the White Board feature, PowerPoint Presentations, and Notes.

6.  Limit Your Agenda

When your team is getting used to new technology, they may need a little more time than usual. Factor this into your meetings and leave space for questions and tutorials. This will simplify the meeting process and make the transition to remote collaboration easier.

Efficiency is always crucial in business, but with remote meetings, it becomes more important than ever. Limit the items on your meeting agenda to encourage focus. It is better to cover a few topics in appropriate depth than to briefly touch on numerous items. Remember, time is money!

7.  Encourage Team Spirit

One potential challenge of remote Board meetings is the lack of connection between your Board members. You can easily combat this by making extra effort to make everyone feel part of one team. 

This can include getting everyone in the meeting to introduce themselves. It might also involve leaving time for ‘water cooler’ conversations, where people can catch up. This will create a more dynamic working environment as everyone feels confident sharing their best ideas.

8.  Keep Your Team Engaged

When meeting remotely, some team members might feel more inclined to multi-task. You should make an active effort to discourage this practice as it can get in the way of your meetings. One solution could be to encourage a ‘video-on’ policy, where participants are required to use their cameras.

Alternatively, you can encourage every member to feel involved in the meeting. By asking everyone to contribute, you can ensure they are focused on the proceedings. Make sure everyone in the meeting has a role to play, and that they are aware of this role. This way, everyone will feel fully invested in the discussion, and create a more effective meeting.

9.  Learn from the Meeting

You can continue to benefit from a meeting after it has taken place. To ensure everyone is on the same page, summarise the key points of what has taken place. This will make things easier when composing the meeting minutes, and encourage a dynamic movement into the future. Equally, noting the key points will make your team feel they have accomplished the desired outcome. 

It may be worth asking participants for their thoughts on the meeting. By asking for feedback, you can encourage them to reflect on the discussions and agreements. This will also allow you to develop new action items to bring to your next meeting.

10.              Use Intuitive Add-Ons

These aspects of Teams are extremely helpful in streamlining collaboration. However, if you are running a formal Board meeting they may not cover all of your internal requirements. You may be concerned about the ability of Teams to work within professional governance standards.

Luckily, you can easily access additional software that will facilitate a comprehensive meeting package. Don’t settle for the bare minimum. With an integrated solution like Convene, you can make sure the shift to online meetings does not impact your professionalism. Features such as an agenda builder, document library, and in-meeting voting, will improve your governance and communication.

Board management software will help your meetings run smoothly and efficiently, and allow you to get the most from discussions. Learn how Convene’s all-in-one Board management solution can help you deliver productive meetings. Contact us today to book a free trial.

Lucy Palmer

Written by Lucy Palmer

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