How to organize a remote meeting

Scheduling a meeting is always a challenge. If you want some more challenges, schedule a meeting remotely.

Foreword

The internet is full of information about ‘How to schedule a meeting’ or ‘how to hold an effective meeting’ so I do not want to waste my time for an additional post on the topic. Instead of that, I am going to tell my experiences about remote meetings. Let’s see some examples of my mistakes and their resolutions.

Preparing Steps

As I mentioned earlier, when I talked about remote code reviews, it is important to prepare for the meeting. If you want to present a meeting, you have to write a short description about that: the topic that you want to discuss or present to the others and/or if you have a problem, what is the acceptable output of the meeting to solve that.

Do not invite the whole world to your meeting

You are responsible for the number of attendees. Let’s just think about that. You have a problem and you need the knowledge of your team to solve that. So you decide to hold a meeting about the problem in question. Are you sure that every single person is needed to attend the meeting or maybe it is just more simple to invite the whole team?

I think the best way to think about that is as follows. What would happen if you had to pay the salaries of the attendees? Are you sure that you have to invite eight people or if you choose wisely, you can solve the problem with only two of your teammates?

Use the proper tools to resolve problems

When I was a young junior developer I used to use Skype as a remote meeting tool. I did not even care about the other members. I just started the audio call, told my problem and waited for the solution.

Today, I tend to think more professional. I prefer to use JoinMe or GotoMeeting. I always show my desktop and I am planning to buy a camera to show myself. It just makes the meeting more personal. Both JoinMe and GotoMeeting is able to make a video recording.

Stop Getting Distracted

You can never eliminate all sources of distractions, but you can take some steps to minimalize them.

No Popups

When I start a meeting, I disable all other notifications. There will be no chimes, pop-ups, calls or chats. I want to focus on the meeting.

I create a meeting event in my Outlook calendar. That shows my teammates that I am busy, so “please do not disturb me”.

No Personal Info during the Meeting

It might sound strange, but please, hide your bookmark bar and as many icons as possible. I had never done that before, just used the drag and drop functionality of the Chrome browser if I found something interesting. About 3 months ago, I decided to learn about algorithms. After some search, I have found a Pluralsight course that has a section about how to learn algorithms. I thought it is great, I bookmark that and watch it during the evening when my family sleeps.

A single bookmark bar can crush your meeting

Actually, that was a huge mistake. The course name was ‘Preparing For a Job Interview’. Yes, the module was about algorithms but it seemed I wanted to prepare a job interview. To make it better, my manager was also attending at the meeting.

I have planned to have a short talk about a relatively small problem with my team that should take about 30 minutes. Instead of that, I had to convince my team I did not want to quit my job.

Clothes

When I was a college student I had my first project that paid some cash. I was so young and I had no idea about  ho to deal with people. We have decided to hold a one-hour meeting at 10 pm with the stakeholder about our ongoing tasks.

There were 3 people attending the meeting: I, one of my friends who were a student too, and the stakeholder: a young woman close to her thirties.

I wore pyjamas and drunk a beer. My friend had a singlet and also drunk a beer. The stakeholder has a full dress and makeup and drunk some water. We were just two children who wanted to code and she was a professional.

Conclusion

I hope you got my point. It seems to be an easy task to have an online meeting but it is not the truth. The truth is, you cannot just turn on the mic and eat your lunch during the meeting. You have to act in the same way as it was an in-person meeting. Do not show too much about youself, as you have to  avoid being the source of the distraction.

You have to define the goal of your meetings and you have to appreciate the time of the attendees. This way you can have a meeting with the same productivity as in the case of an in-person meeting.

 

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