Virtual meeting best practices: Your playbook for successful online meetings

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Virtual meetings have become standard technology that’s ubiquitous among companies of all sizes. With teams more distributed than ever, demand for solutions to keep remote workers connected increases. In fact, over the last decade, remote work has increased by a whopping 91%! Remote work offers better work-life balance and is the main reason people opt for more flexible work arrangements.
The good news is that meeting technology is now more accessible and sophisticated than ever. Software for video calls and video conferencing helps keep remote teams connected, aligned, and engaged. It also levels the playing field for smaller businesses with smaller budgets to expand globally since it reduces the need for travel.
Remote employees having a virtual meeting using RingCentral

A brief history of the virtual meeting

Virtual meetings (aka online meetings or video conferencing) allow anywhere from two to 100+ participants to have a face-to-face meeting experience online. These meetings offer incredible flexibility to businesses. Multiple people in many time zones can access the same virtual meeting from any device and from any location, on any web host—as long as they have an internet connection (no phone system needed).
The very first “virtual meeting” dates back to the late 1920s when AT&T, John Logie Baird, and Bell Labs experimented with a rudimentary video phone. They managed to connect three parties, 200 miles apart, having a live conversation. Since then, we’ve come a long way, baby!
The modern video call revolution really boomed in the early 2000s. Cheap color cameras and software made the virtual meeting tool free and easy to access for the general public. Since then, meeting technology has evolved, completely transforming how people communicate—both personally and professionally.

How do online meetings work anyway?

Video call applications use something called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP takes audio signals and transforms them into digital data to allow people to communicate online and without the need for a phone connection. Video calling also requires a camera to transmit video so you can communicate via both audio and video means.

There are lots of free virtual meeting app options that are aimed at consumers. These consumer VoIP platforms are fairly simple with fewer features and mainly used for social networking purposes. Business VoIP apps, on the other hand, are more robust. They offer more conference calling features, third party integrations, and in-depth analytics that offer site feedback.

What are the business benefits of having virtual meetings?

There are many video call platforms available today for businesses with a variety of calling features. The ability to conduct online meetings has many business benefits.

To get the full suite of features, you’ll often have to pay a monthly or annual fee. But in most cases, the benefits of going with a paid virtual meeting software far outweigh the costs.

Employees conducting a virtual meeting using a tablet device

What are the advantages of virtual meetings?

Having a good quality video calling solution has significant business advantages (more on each one below):
  • More flexibility and greater employee satisfaction
  • More closed won deals
  • Saves you time and money

Virtual meetings offer more flexibility and improve employee satisfaction

All you need to host and/or attend a video conference is a computer or mobile device and an internet connection. This added flexibility allows employees to join meetings wherever they are. All they need is the mobile version of the meeting app. That means less time wasted on things like commuting or missing work due to sickness.
Plus, features like chat, file-sharing, and screen sharing can help teams build better relationships and communicate more effectively when everyone’s remote.

Virtual meetings help you close more deals

Reach new markets in different countries, qualify leads, and foster collaboration with sales teams—all without leaving your HQ.
When meeting virtually (rather than with a phone call), sales can connect with prospects on a more personal level. Video lets you “put a face to a name” and adds context with visual cues. Plus, screen sharing capabilities let sales transition to live demos on-the-spot rather than having to coordinate an in-person session.

Virtual meetings save you time and money

Less demand for in-person meetings means less travel. This cuts down on travel costs and commute times—not to mention boosts productivity. Further to that, having a virtual meeting allows you to have more frequent touch points since you can conduct site visits online.
Not only that, but less travel also increases employee satisfaction. With the commute experience becoming increasingly difficult and lengthy, a significant number of workers have expressed a preference for working remotely.

Types of meetings that teams and companies can conduct online

There are a variety of ways teams can take advantage of online video conferencing software. Here are three big ones:

One-on-one video chats

Video chats get you valuable “face-time” without having to be in the same physical location. This is helpful whether you’re a manager doing weekly one-on-ones with your reports if you just need to touch base with a colleague.

Live training and webinars

Virtual meeting software for businesses can be a game-changer. Especially when it comes to hosting a larger virtual event like a training session, public speaking event, or webinar. For example, RingCentral Video™ lets you invite up to 10, 000 participants to an interactive virtual event. What's more, they offer an interactive experience and participants can engage with the speaker(s) with customizable polls and Q&A.

Team meetings

Meeting with your colleagues, project teams, clients, or partners in a virtual room has its benefits. Video call platforms for businesses often have collaborative tools like screen-sharing and file-sharing. This way, everyone can share and collaborate on things like important documents, websites, or presentations in real-time.

Some video conferencing solutions offer an even more dynamic experience, letting you split people into breakout sessions.

Prospect and customer calls

In place of in-person meetings, online conferencing enables sales to conduct face-to-face meetings. A video meeting allows more eye-contact which can make sales calls more effective overall.

The ability to have online demos, and real-time reviews of proposals and agreements, can also greatly reduce cost per lead.

How to have successful virtual meetings

Not all virtual meetings are created equal. The depth and breadth of features vary from platform to platform. Follow these best practices to make sure you always host effective virtual meetings.

Checklist of meeting software essentials

Avoid finding yourself in a situation where you’re limited by the availability of features (or lack thereof) in the meeting software you choose. When selecting your virtual meeting software, ensure it has the following.

  • checkmark-blue

    High definition (HD) audio and video quality to make sure people are seen and voices are heard clearly

    • Chat box so you can enrich group conversations or have private discussions

  • Call encryption for added safety and security

  • Customization for things like registration landing pages and emails

  • Collaborative meeting tools like polls and Q&A

  • Integrations with other tools in your tech stack like Google Drive, Trello, and Mailchimp

  • Host controls like muting/unmuting participants, starting/stopping video, and locking a meeting

  • Participant controls like hand-raising

  • The option to record and save your meetings and chats

  • Mobile app for smartphones and tablets so you can host and access a virtual meeting anytime, anywhere

  • Solid customer support to offer help with any technical issues or questions that arise.

Virtual meeting etiquette

To make sure you come across as polished and professional during an online meeting, follow these best practices:

  • Make eye contact with meeting participants by looking at your camera and not the screen

    • If there is background noise where you are, make sure to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking

  • For meetings with multiple people, use the hand-raising feature to avoid speaking over each other

  • Avoid being backlit to help people see you clearly

  • Avoid eating or drinking during the meeting

  • Don’t talk over others or shout

More tips on how to improve your virtual meeting experience

Meeting virtually is obviously different than meeting in-person for a variety of reasons. Because of these differences, also consider the following dos and don’ts for successful virtual meetings each and every time.

Virtual meeting dos for your remote team

  • Test the technology ahead of time to iron out any technical issues.

  • Set a meeting agenda to keep things flowing.

  • Be aware of attendees in different time zones and schedule your meeting accordingly.

  • Introduce everyone at the beginning of the meeting (or let them introduce themselves) and present the meeting agenda when you begin the meeting.

  • Turn off all notifications for the duration of the meeting.

  • Follow up after the meeting with any next steps and clear deliverables.

  • Start and end with pleasantries (just like you would in an in-person meeting.)

  • Wear headphones for better sound quality and to minimize background noise.

  • Assign a moderator such as the project manager to help ensure the meeting flows.

Scheduling a virtual meeting with the RingCentral Desktop App
Employee working from home

Virtual meeting don'ts for your remote team

  • Avoid setting up in a location where you’ll have lots of distractions like a café.

  • Don’t get distracted. Focus and be present at all times.

  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. Pause often to leave ample opportunities for questions and comments.

  • Beware of leaving out introverts. Prompt everyone for answers to make the meeting inclusive.

So, are you ready to explore a new virtual meeting technology?

To take the next step in making every remote meeting easier and more reliable than ever, check out RingCentral Video. It goes beyond basic video calling and integrates messaging, video, and phone into one easy-to-use platform. Not only is it secure and ideal for teams of any size, it also has 99.99% uptime. This means you’ll consistently host successful virtual meetings that won’t let you down in the moments that matter most.

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