In light of recent world events, working remotely has become the new norm for law firms across the globe. As a result, regularly scheduled meetings are now happening remotely, which isn’t always easy, especially if it’s the first time you’re running one. To help law firms adapt to the changing work environment, we’ve put together some tips for lawyers to embrace and better manage remote meetings.
1. Make sure you have the right communication tools
The tools that are most effective for a one-on-one chat aren’t necessarily the same tools as those that are most effective for running a meeting of 20 remote workers spread across different time zones. Make sure the meeting software you choose can accommodate all of your attendees without going haywire. Different teams or meeting needs may require different communications platforms. Go to Meeting, Zoom, and Skype are all good options.
2. Include a phone number for dialing in
Many conference platforms are focused on using internet connections. However, you never know when someone’s internet might be down or when their only option for joining the meeting will be a phone. It’s important to give this option if you want to make sure your legal marketing team can attend any remote meeting seamlessly.
3. Keep time zones in mind
There are apps you can use to make sure your meetings are time-zone aligned, however, the idea is generally pretty simple – try to avoid what will be early in the morning or evening for any of your attendees.
4. Don’t cancel or reschedule without explanation
Especially don’t do so at the last minute! When you’re not seeing people face to face, it’s easy to forget that every attendee on your meeting list has their own schedules and agendas. When you move something or cancel a meeting that invitees are prepared for, it’s important to give as much notice as possible and include a note with your reasoning and an apology.
5. Make sure people understand how to join
When you send the meeting invite, repeat the name of the meeting, the date, the time + time zone, and the duration. Include “HOW TO JOIN” with information such as conference phone number or meeting link. It’s also a good practice to include a phone number for people to call if they have trouble connecting.
6. When you’re remote, choose your location carefully
During these unusual circumstances, people are understanding of the fact that you may be at home and not working under normal conditions. However, it’s still a good idea to have pets and children out of the way, make sure windows are closed to street noise, etc.
7. Take advantage of video-conferencing
Video conferencing helps you share information more efficiently. It’s even more important to try and get some face-time with your colleagues to quell any loneliness that will inevitably set in during mandatory shelter-in-place. Don’t worry if your apartment or home is messy! Most video-conferencing platforms have virtual background features that allow you to display an image as your background during a meeting.
8. Have a wifi backup
Wifi these days is generally reliable, but you shouldn’t take it for granted if you have important remote meetings. Make sure you know how to set up your phone as a mobile hotspot.
9. Join meetings early
It can take time to set up a new conference tool on your laptop, or troubleshoot if something goes wrong. Plan to dial in early and give yourself a few extra minutes.
10. Begin the meeting with introductions
If you’re the host, letting everyone in the meeting know who is in the room with you and who is online will help make everyone more comfortable.
11. Encourage muting
It’s a good practice if you’re running the meeting to remind people to mute their lines if they’re not speaking, and turn off any background noise or computer notifications. It’s especially important if you’ll be sharing your screen or presenting that you turn off distractions.
12. Don’t waste time due to being afraid of speaking over someone
Have you ever come to a four-way stop and you, along with all the other cars, wave at each other to “go ahead”? This tends to happen often during remote meetings. Since people cannot see the visual cues that someone is going to talk, you often get two or more people chiming in to answer a question or begin a topic. In this case, you could spend several minutes with rounds of “go ahead!”. It’s best to just take the lead and dive in, not being too apologetic about speaking over someone. Being able to see visual cues is another reason why we recommend running remote video meetings.
13. Ask for feedback on how it’s going
Often, it can make sense to set up video as part of smaller remote meetings. That helps everyone to stay and feel connected. If you aren’t able to do that, make sure you pause every 10 minutes or so to check in. “Is everyone following along? Can everyone still hear ok? Need a break?” – All are helpful touchpoints to make sure people are engaged in your law firm’s remote meeting.
It’s important to do what you can to stay connected during this unprecedented time. These tips will help you and your legal marketing team be productive during remote meetings, regardless of where everyone is dialing in from.
There is an abundance of technology out there that makes the process of running remote meetings easier, faster, and more collaborative. Contact us today if you need help determining which tools are right for your team.