Shibabrata Mondal - 29/Nov/2016

How Engaging are Remote Meetings

remote meetings

(photo credit: cms.montgomerycollege.edu)

Remote meetings are hard.

That’s right. Let me say it again. Remote meetings are really hard.

In our increasingly connected world, an increasing number of meetings are remote meetings. It is not uncommon to see even some scrum meetings done remotely.

It’s hard for the host to judge if all attendees are engaged and following the meeting and are on same page.

It’s hard for the remote attendees to follow, especially if some attendees are local with the host or presenter.

There are 4 broad types of remote meetings:

  • Webinar: This is typically for training and presentation. Mostly one person talks and presents; everyone else mostly listens with very minimal (if any) interactions. Video broadcast can work for this type of meetings. Standard web meeting tools can also work for these type of meetings. However, even for webinar style meetings if the content being presented is complex, engagement levels of participants can fall quickly.

Some tools and process to keep participants engaged and for the host to know the level of engagement of all participants can greatly improve the effectiveness of webinars.

  • Multiple Groups: This is typically used by large project teams spread across multiple geographies. In these meetings complex business matters are discussed and important decisions are made.

Keeping all attendees engaged and on the same page is critically important.

  • One Group and many Individuals: The biggest reason for these type of meetings is globalization and increase in off-office-hours meetings for a large number of participants due to timezone constraints. Keeping the remote individual participants engaged is hard in this case for a couple of reasons:
      • Typically, these individuals are the ones attending the meetings from home either early morning or late evening or sometimes even late nights.
      • The participants in the group can often break into private conversation between themselves which gets hard to follow for remote audience.
  • One on One between two individuals: Often used by inside sales teams for presentation or to do a demonstration to prospects. In these meetings a key input to decision making process should be the level of engagement of the prospect.

Today there are two types of collaborative tools used for remote meetings:

  • Screen sharing is typically used to share documents, most commonly a powerpoint presentation.
  • Video conferencing works for Webinar style meetings or for meetings with 2 participants. With more than 2 participants it starts having an exponentially decreasing value add and often negative value add.

Need for Specific optimized screens

A key problem with the generic remote meeting solutions is that they are not aware of the specific type of the meetings and the key contents of that meeting. One measure of efficiency of a remote meeting tool is how many times during the meeting either the host or one of the attendees needed to switch the application on their screen, either to take personal notes, or write down minutes of the meeting, or record an important decision, or capture and assign action items or parking lot entries or to search for a document to present.

Need for Engagement

Another problem with generic remote meeting solutions is the inability to measure and create engagement of remote participants.

Need to work without huge infrastructure constraints

Today’s generic remote meeting solutions often either does not work or works very poorly when it does not have access to very high speed network. This is a luxury that is often not available to today’s global and mobile workforce.

Content is King

Content and interactivity is the key for engaging meetings. We need a tool that can support the following:

  • Can do presentations previously shared in agenda are presented.
  • Can add minutes, decisions that are shared with everyone in real time.
  • Can track meeting and generate minutes.
  • Can add personal notes.
  • Can create action items and in real time see action items that got created.
  • Can create parking lot items.
  • Can create and share a poll during the meeting.
  • Can create and share a quiz during the meeting.
  • Can help in keeping track of time for the meeting and agenda items.
  • Can measure and report engagement levels.
  • Can work from anywhere using mobile devices.

 

Shibabrata Mondal

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