Virtual meetings is a very common trend in the dynamic business & corporate world in the global arena. It has many challenges attached to it in the form of having communication gaps while working usually in a 9-5 environment is different. COVID-19 is a huge example as many people have been working from remote environment mainly from home. Therefore, the biggest challenge is the environment that lacks professionalism in terms of many aspects, and one of the vital ones being timeliness and being effectively efficient.
However, at the same time virtual meetings are considered as a good option for interactions & virtual group discussions. Why the communication gap matters to most people in the corporate environment is evident due to the changing business trends. It’s more or less linked with higher professional levels and creating good alliances in the corporate sector. Maintaining a professional attitude during virtual meetings environment is a huge challenge. It not only demands immense contributions from the leadership. However, can also be taken as a demanding leadership challenge. The other key factor is the maintenance of time management aspects while delivering results in the digital world. Virtual meetings hold ingredients of success for the company if the due importance is given at the right time.
HANDLING COMMUNICATION GAPS:
How can we proactively handle communication gaps in a virtual meeting environment? A very easy approach is synchronisation of time and agendas that can reduce the challenges of unwanted communication gaps in a virtual meeting. The limitations attached to virtual meetings are mainly with audio and visual cues. However, in person meetings involve body language, tone of voice, pacing & gestures that add immensely to the speaker’s words. Some key points that can help the communication gaps involved in virtual meetings are as follows;
- It’s important to ask everyone to mute their microphones when they are not talking. It’s important to sit in quiet areas during the call.
- Discuss and distribute a clear and concise meeting agenda to all the participants involved in the meeting. This is important as it signifies to all participants what they might expect in the meeting.
- Effective and efficient use of technology is highly important as it engages the participants of the meetings in multiple ways. These tools includes screen sharing tools for bringing clarity in discussions and minimising communication levels.
- Make sure that you stick to meeting plans to avoid communication gaps. This is important so that somebody from the participants makes minutes of the meetings as vital recordings as future references. It’s also important so that the participants don’t deviate from the agendas in any possible way.
- Do make a positive end to the meeting. Sometimes in the virtual meetings environment, the end matters most than the start of the meeting. Try to end the meetings with exact action items for every attendee. Ask or remind each member for their next steps and make sure that everyone is highly aware of their responsibilities.
ENCOUNTERING DISTANT TIME ZONE CHALLENGES:
In a virtual meeting environment the challenges linked up with variable time zones is yet another challenge. For example you are having a meeting with your client based in United States & your Time zone is Middle East, naturally you will have to take care of many variables that are applicable.
As a project manager and coordinator of the Virtual meeting you may fall into making & prioritising yours and your team’s schedules. However, as a Project manager & Coordinator you must also consider the Time zone & how easy & difficult it can be for your client to give his/her full participation in the meeting. Especially if it’s a recurring meeting, you have to make sure that the time frame for the meeting is selected somewhere in the middle of the two time zones & according to the convenience of both parties involved. The meeting takes place for 1-1.5 hours as dedicating more time to the meeting can result in lack of interest & increasing communication gaps.
Showing value to your clients or other stakeholders & giving them the due consideration will always create positive vibes in the meeting & future meetings. Ironically, creating an atmosphere for better virtual meetings and increasing the chances of future success.