Tips for running a good remote meeting

Awesome tips from Julie Zhuo’s article, managing remotely:

Cancel as many meetings as you can. Video meetings seem to sap more energy than in-person meetings and require more effort to stay focused, especially if your primary job is to listen.

I read an interesting explanation that this may be because we don’t feel the bodily presence of others in the room (through eye contact, etc.) so our brains have to work harder to convince ourselves to behave as normally would socially.

It could also be that it’s easier to sneak in a distraction like opening another tab, or simply that a bunch of pixels on the screen are less compelling than a full, real-life human in holding our attention.

Regardless, take a hard look at your recurring meetings—do you still need that series? Do you still need to call a meeting to disseminate information, or can you share a doc? Do you need 3 back-and-forth review meetings, or can you do a majority of the discussions via comments and chats and just call one meeting to make a decision?

Send out a clear agenda for meetings ahead of time to give everyone time to prepare. If it’s hard to come up with an agenda, or the agenda looks sparse, consider cancelling the meeting.

More documents, less powerpoints and keynotes. A document’s more narrative structure makes it easier to pass around and consume asynchronously. We can all do with fewer synchronous presentations right now.

Establish team norms for getting airtime. For example, the meeting organizer goes “around-the-room” and specifically calls on individuals for their thoughts, or establish a system where folks who want to ask a question or share a comment can raise their hand on the screen or type 🙋🏻‍♀️or Q in the video call’s chat.

Mute if you don’t expect to be saying much or you’re in a noisy environment.

Smile or nod more vigorously when someone speaks if you’re in a smaller meeting where you’ll be seen on the screen. It makes a big difference to someone who otherwise feels they’re presenting in an empty room.

Take advantage of one key plus of remote meeting—you can take notes more easily! Don’t do it to the distraction of not paying attention to what’s being said, obviously, but no one is going to get distracted if you’re typing away.

Turn off video cameras if anyone on the meeting has a bad Internet connection.