Virtual meetings have become the new norm in construction as leaders need to communicate with their teams in a safe and effective way. Yet running a virtual meeting is distinctly different than leading an in-person meeting because you are in an environment that is harder to control. It’s essential to keep your team focused, avoid tech-related obstacles, and connect with your team in a meaningful way. Below are some ways to lead effective virtual meetings.

Prepare Beforehand

Last-minute meetings don’t work when employees are working from home. Generally, the work environment is more chaotic than it would otherwise be because your team is dealing with kids, pets, spouses, and other distractions. You can help keep the meeting focused and controlled by giving both you and your team adequate time to prepare. You want to make sure everybody has the agenda and other documents in advance so they can read them before the meeting starts. That way they can focus on discussing the content during the meeting. You also want to have all your technology, slides, and documents ready to go so you don’t waste people’s time with set up. Also, urge participants to do the same.

Encourage Your Team to Use Both Audio and Video

It is much easier to lead a video conference than an audio conference. If everyone is using video, it will cut down on multitasking. You want the whole team participating in the conversation. Many people who are working remotely for the first time are feeling isolated. Video conferences give your employees a chance to interact with colleagues. While you want the focus to be on business, video conferences function as a form of socialization. You want to do what you can to keep your team from feeling alienated.

Show Warmth, Empathy, Patience

Face-to-face meetings are naturally more intimate than virtual meetings, which can often feel impersonal. At the same time, your employees are dealing with all kinds of added stress because of the pandemic. You want to approach virtual meetings with empathy and warmth. You don’t want to make the meetings feel too formal. You also want to go out of your way to show your team that you care about their mental well-being. Ask them how they are coping with their current challenges, validate their concerns, and see what you can do to help. Patience is also critical. When dealing with technology, there are going to be unexpected challenges. Audio may drop, people may experience lag, etc. It is important to be patient, but to also address technology hiccups as quickly as possible.

Leading a successful virtual meeting is often challenging. There will be more distractions, more unknowns, and tech issues. It is you job to keep everyone focused, ensure the team feels valued, and keep the meeting on task. The key is to prepare as much as possible, show empathy and patience, and make the meeting interactive.

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