5 Ways to Include Your Remote Meeting Attendees

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When it comes to productivity, calling a team meeting to collaborate and align is one of the best tools. But for your attendees who are remote, they may be more of a challenge than you know. Technology issues, not being present to assess people’s reactions, and time differences can all impact the productivity of a meeting. Plus, it is easy for remote attendees to feel invisible or unable to contribute when they aren’t in-office. To make meetings easier, and more productive for the whole team, here are five tips to mindfully engage all of the attendees of your next mixed-attendance meeting.

1. Microphone

Discussion and Q & A time is meaningful, but if it’s not taking place around the microphone your remote attendees won’t be able to participate. Encourage everyone in the room to speak into the microphone, or have someone repeat questions into the microphone for remote attendees. Side conversations and crosstalk can be especially distracting and difficult to follow, so try to encourage your peers to avoid this and ask clear, focused questions.

2. Camera

Many conference rooms and almost all laptop computers are equipped with cameras. It’s important to take advantage of this technology so the remote attendees can see the room. In large rooms, or rooms without cameras team members can position their laptop cameras towards the larger group so remote attendees can still feel connected. This feels inclusive and will help remote attendees follow conversations.

3. Chat

Designate someone to monitor the chat window on whatever meeting client you are using! Sometimes remote attendees will comment that they cannot hear, or cannot see the slides. Without anyone monitoring the comments, they will go unseen for part of the presentation during which time your remote attendees have missed out on content. You can also encourage your meeting attendees to post questions to a specific Chatter group or topic. This will help drive transparency and collaboration from both the remote and in-person team members.

4. Remote Ambassador

Have a remote ambassador in each meeting. The remote ambassador is responsible for checking in on the microphone, camera, chat, and also reminding the room to check in with the remote attendees. Ideally, this is a role that shifts as it will help drive empathy and understanding of remote inclusion if all your team members have a chance to act as the remote ambassador. Identify the remote ambassador to everyone on the call at the beginning of the meeting. This tip is most useful for meetings with more than five people where the majority of the attendees are in one office. Remember, there cannot be too many remote ambassadors! Even if you are not the ‘assigned’ remote ambassador, if you see a remote colleague being ignored or notice an issue with the microphone/slides/connection, speak up.

5. Follow-up plan

Share resources and decks used in the meeting in a central place, like Chatter. During the call wrap-up, clearly communicate the place for continued conversation around this topic (Chatter group, Quip, etc.). For larger meetings, ask the remote attendees how their experience was and ask what could have been done better.

Active remote inclusion in an ongoing practice! These are a few extra tips to help drive engagement with your remote team members:

Other tips

  • Presenting from your machine? Avoid some technical issues with Meet or GoToMeeting by restarting your machine the day of the meeting, or at least restarting your browser.
  • Proactively record the meeting, should there be technical issues that prevents everyone from participating. Share this recording in the same place you share the deck.
  • Don’t wait until 5 minutes after everyone is in the room to start the online meeting. Most remote attendees would rather the meeting is started 5 minutes before content than 5 min after content. Remember- remote employees don’t know what is going on in the room. It’s easy to assume a technical difficulty on their end if the meeting is started late.
  • Haven’t heard from a remote attendee during the meeting? It can be hard to jump into an involved in-office discussion via video. Ask them for their feedback.
  • Working across time zones? We know it’s difficult to find times that work for both Amsterdam and San Francisco. Try to be conscious of who is taking a meeting early/late, and rotate your scheduling to be considerate of your global team. For recurring meetings, ask your team’s opinion with a Chatter poll. Some team members may not mind taking a later meeting, while others may have to make significant commute or family accommodations to do so.
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