Plenty of employees are ambivalent to meetings. And while there’s no question that a lot can be accomplished in a well-run meeting, 22 percent of employees think of them as a waste of time. With the workforce becoming increasingly remote and mobile, employees may work on other projects or leave the room during teleconferences. When you put this all together, simply running a meeting on a telephone line does not lead to productive, engaging meetings for most employees.
Yet meetings are an essential part of doing business. When surveyed, 95 percent of respondents said face-to-face meetings are critical for long-term business relationships. Some communications cannot be done over email; they require the kind of collaboration and brainstorming that can only be done in real-time. There is no substitute for nonverbal cues — facial expressions, gestures, even a nodding of the head in agreement. A Baylor College of Medicine study found that visual cues help people understand what’s being said six times better than speech alone.
With remote and telecommuting employees, it can be cost-prohibitive to bring in the team for face-to-face meetings. Video conferencing is one way for companies to bring together employees for collaboration, but poor quality feeds and teleconferencing solutions can inhibit meaningful participation. Companies run the risk of employees being just as disengaged.
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to run smarter – and more productive – meetings, and keep employees from checking out or daydreaming.
Step 1: Integrate Messaging Platforms and Phone Systems
Companies that offer all-in-one calling, team messaging, and video conferencing free up meeting attendees to toggle effortlessly between channels. Having all three capabilities available in a single platform provides an organic, native video experience embedded into the online meeting, making it easier for attendees to collaborate, ask questions, and stay engaged.
Using a system that also offers a conference room option enables companies to have a team in a physical conference room setup in high-definition video with employees, prospects, and customers across the globe.
Step 2: Move Beyond Screen Sharing
Many organizations already use screen sharing during online meetings. While this is a way to share information and documents or illustrate key points, there’s more you can do to enhance collaboration. Some solutions enable you to share files, encouraging true, real-time collaboration. Integrating with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box means you can share presentations and files quickly and easily during meetings, and attendees can scroll back to ask questions or offer suggestions.
It’s too easy for someone’s eyes to glaze over when someone else is manipulating the screen, but if a meeting attendee can scroll through the document themselves, they can point out where something could be improved. Both the host and attendees can annotate the document on the fly by highlighting sections and text or adding comments. This makes collaboration more immediate, and the project can move forward without delay.
Step 3: Provide Mobility for Anywhere Access
Meetings are not always scheduled at the most convenient times. Key team members may be on the road with limited Internet access and cannot always set up a laptop to join in. Providing a way to connect and collaborate via smartphone, desktops, tablets, and in-room video conferencing systems ensures traveling employees can attend. Whether they’re hopping off a plane or about to catch a flight, they can participate and view documents, files, or presentations on their mobile devices.
Leave No Attendee Behind
Following these steps will not only engage employees better during meetings, they will also make meetings smarter. Companies will be able to accomplish more than they would by just being on a call, inspire true collaboration, and ensure that mobile and remote employees are able to get the same benefits from the meeting as their in-office counterparts.
To learn more about how RingCentral can help you unify communications across your organization with a single solution for calls, meetings and messaging, download our whitepaper, “Enabling the New Connected Workplace.”
Originally published Jul 31, 2019, updated Jul 20, 2021