Holding regular meetings with your team is good for enhancing collaboration and teamwork. It is a great way to ensure that everyone is working on the same page. However, if you have remote workers in your team, holding meetings successfully becomes a challenge. For a meeting to be successful, it is critical that each participant is engaged. But, it can be hard to tell if individuals joining in from thousands of miles away feel like part of the meeting or if they are just there for formalities. How best can you facilitate virtual meetings to ensure that everyone feels included? Here are 5 suggestions that you can try.
1. Choose the time wisely
Making remote employees feel included starts with scheduling meetings at a time when they can be available. Individuals working from home are likely to have other commitments that might limit the time they can get to attend virtual meetings. For instance, a parent taking care of kids or a caregiver caring for a sick or elderly family member might only be available for meetings at certain times of the day. For such reasons, it is important that you consider each team player’s situation when selecting the time for meetings. Check-in with them to ask for suggestions on the ideal time for everyone. This also means putting into account individuals working from different time zones.
2. Use video interpretation
The beauty of remote work is that you can hire individuals from anywhere in the world, regardless of the language that they speak. If you have remote workers who speak different languages, the best way to make them feel included in meetings is to ensure that they get the message and participate in a language that they understand. This can be made possible using video remote interpretation services. Make sure that you find a reliable remote interpretation services provider to provide accurate interpretation to individuals who speak different languages.
3. Balance airtime for everyone
Teams are made of people with different personalities. You are likely to have people who are more outspoken than others in your team. Such individuals happen to take over the meeting, interrupting others and talking more than the rest. As the meeting facilitator, you have the task of ensuring that every participant gets a chance to air his or her views. How can you do this?
- Ask questions more to encourage others to talk
- Create a psychologically safe environment where members can feel safe to share their opinions without being judged
- Be intentional in asking quieter participants for their opinions
- Be creative when cutting off people who take more time than expected
- If a person is interrupted, give him or her a chance to continue with the point. You can say something like, ‘I would want to hear X finish his/her thought’
- Use the chat function to alert the introverts that you are getting to them in a few so that they can start preparing
- Encourage members to use the hand raise feature if they have something to say rather than interjecting others
4. Choose a platform with accessibility features
Besides having people who speak a different language in the team, be aware of others who might have various disabilities such as hearing or vision. It is important for such individuals to follow the meeting in a way that they feel comfortable. For this reason, ensure that the video platform that you use for meetings supports accessibility features. You need one that offers live closed captions for people with hearing disabilities. Additionally, use screen readers that convert text and images into audio or braille for individuals who are visually impaired.
5. Consider recording meetings
You can’t rule out distractions in virtual meetings when remote workers are working from home or in noisy places. Consider a mother who has to take care of a child when the meeting is ongoing. She would appreciate a chance to go back and listen to the meeting at a time of her own. The recording also gives a chance for people who joined the meeting late or had to leave early. However, ensure that everyone is comfortable with the idea of being recorded before doing so.
You don’t have to keep wondering if your remote workers feel included in meetings. Be proactive in employing the above tips in your next meeting and you are sure to make everyone happy. Additionally, it pays to ask for feedback from your team members. Allow them to offer suggestions on the best ways that they can feel included in meetings. Moreover, be sure to find ways to implement them.