Remote meetings can be challenging – especially when people interrupt each other, have trouble staying on track, and leave the meeting without clear action items. However, hosting productive meetings with your distributed team is not impossible.
The best way to succeed as a remote leader is to empower your team with tools that enable them to communicate and collaborate effectively. One of those tools is Fellow.app, our meeting agenda software for remote and distributed teams.
- Give people the chance to prepare.
- Keep your remote meetings on track.
- Avoid misunderstandings.
- Send a recap email or slack message.
- Measure the effectiveness of your remote meetings.
“Fellow has completely changed the way we manage meetings. With 100+ people in 32 different countries, Fellow was one of the tools that took our remote meetings from confusion to clarity.”– Liam Martin, Co-founder, Time Doctor.
If you’re looking to increase your meetings’ productivity, this post is for you. We asked our community of remote leaders for their top 5 tips on how to use Fellow to have engaging virtual meetings. Here’s what they told us:
- Give people the chance to prepare, so you can accomplish more during the meeting.
- Keep your remote meetings on track by following an agenda.
- Avoid misunderstandings by recording action items.
- Send a recap email or slack message to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Measure the effectiveness of your remote meetings by asking your teammates for feedback.
1 Give people the chance to prepare, so you can accomplish more during the meeting
There’s no doubt that preparation is the key to more productive meetings. Collaborating on a meeting agenda ahead of time not only makes your remote meetings more organized, but gives everyone a chance to read what other people want to discuss – so they can come prepared with questions, comments, and in some cases, further research. Giving people some context before the meeting will let you focus on what matters most – for instance, reaching a decision.
That’s why Brian Espinosa, head of front-end engineering at Espressive, uses Fellow to send a meeting agenda in advance of his remote meetings:
“With about 80% of my team being remote, I think the feature that is making the biggest impact for me, as someone with a LOT of inputs and roles spread in my org, is the ability to collaborate on an agenda BEFORE a meeting with others. That makes meetings more productive and when there is context switching, people have a chance to figure out if they need to do some research or reading before a meeting so we can accomplish things when the meeting starts.”– Brian Espinosa, Head of Front End Engineering & Experience Design at Espressive.
2 Keep your remote meetings on track by following an agenda
Once the meeting starts, it’s important to ask everyone on the team to split their computer screen between the meeting agenda and the video conferencing tool you’re using (for instance: Google Meet or Zoom). This will help the meeting attendees stay focused, avoid interruptions, and follow the agenda without having to switch between applications or look away at a different screen.
If you run out of time and aren’t able to go through all the talking points on the agenda, Fellow will automatically carry them forward to your next meeting!
“We use Fellow + Zoom for our daily standup meetings. Being able to follow the agenda when different people speak makes the meeting so much more effective.”– Sarah Wong, Customer Success at Fellow
3 Avoid misunderstandings by recording the action items that come out of every meeting
Collaborating on talking points and writing down meeting notes is important – but the essential ingredient to have a productive discussion is assigning clear action items.
“We use Fellow to follow up on the action items that inevitably come out of every meeting. It’s been a game-changer for our team.”– John Gleeson, Head of Customer Success, KeepTruckin.
One of the most common mistakes people make during their remote meetings is “agreeing” on the next steps – but not recording them in a collaborative space where the assignees can be held accountable by the rest of the team. When asked about this feature, a remote Engineering Manager at Funding Circle said:
“It seems that the engineers on my team like it too. Some of their previous managers were using pen and paper and they never knew what was recorded or the actions that came out of the meeting.”
With Fellow, all your remote meetings will have clear action items, with due dates and assignees.
Start every meeting by reviewing the outstanding action items from your previous discussion. This will ensure that there’s progress in between your meetings.
4 Send a recap email or Slack message to ensure everyone is on the same page
When everyone is in the same room, it’s easy to see people’s facial expressions and understand the team’s mood. However, one of the challenges with virtual meetings is not knowing if your teammates left the meeting feeling inspired… or confused.
One tip we heard from our community that solves this issue is using the ‘send notes’ feature in Fellow. According to a Squad Lead at Shopify, sending a recap message or email after your meeting ends is a great way to save time, and ensure that everyone on the team is aligned:
“It’s hard to pick a favourite feature, but the one that’s making the most positive impact on my workflows is the ‘Send notes’ button. Being able to both pull group meetings notes into Slack channels, and also individually email private notes to individuals rather than duplicating my work manually emailing is a lifesaver.”
5 Measure the effectiveness of your remote meetings by asking your teammates for feedback
Last but not least, it’s important to understand if your meetings are working for your teammates. If you want to continually improve your remote team’s rituals and processes, you need to ask the people involved for their feedback.
The fifth tip to have more effective remote meetings is to send a feedback request every once in a while, asking your teammates for things that could be improved, changed, and/or added to the virtual meeting. Asking for your teammates’ suggestions on an ongoing basis will help you build a feedback culture in your organization.
“One of the best additions to our feedback loop has been the company-wide adoption of Fellow. It provides an amazing platform for constant, direct feedback between managers and direct reports.”– Justin Schiefner, Director of People & Culture at Arkose Labs.
Make the most of your virtual meetings ✨
Organizing remote meetings can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re managing a distributed team for the first time. The most important thing you can do is make everyone feel included, assign clear takeaways, and ask for your team’s suggestions. Finally, check out these other blog posts to learn more best practices for running effective virtual meetings: