What are Virtual Meetings?

Recall the times when a business meeting meant your team and boss sitting around the table in a conference room with a whiteboard, discussing recent and future plans. But today, the term “meeting” is more likely to be associated with screen sharing and kids’ voices in the background. Yes, remote work and virtual meetings have become a modern standard. As usual, all changes come with their challenges, and business conferences are not the exception. Today, let’s examine a few things a team should know to arrange online meetings effectively.

What are Virtual Meetings?

Virtual meeting meaning

Just one glance at the definition of a virtual meeting is enough to understand what its primary purpose is.

A virtual meeting is when people connect with each other from various locations online rather than face-to-face. Such remote meetings tend to be easy to plan and organize, and don’t require as much time and effort as other types of web-based events, like webinars or masterclasses.

They are typically conducted via virtual meeting platforms, such as Slack, Zoom, Whoosh, Cisco Webex, and other virtual meeting tools you’ve probably heard of.

What are virtual meetings for?

We’re now living in the era of the global pandemic, and that endures its consequences.

Many organizations had to transit their teams to remote work, keeping everyone involved in the working process without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Other reasons to make a virtual environment a part of your everyday working routine are:

  • To grow business teams by inviting employees from various parts of the world
  • To keep in touch with distant relatives and friends
  • To save on the office rent and other expenses
  • To cut down on travel costs

So, the primary virtual meeting meaning is to keep team members connected, talking, and seeing each other on the screen using a special virtual meeting platform.

Types of virtual meetings

With the entire global popularity of remote work and life, virtual events have evolved to the point that they can be set up using numerous devices, software, and services. They can be divided into three groups, according to the used communication means:

Teleconferencing (aka voice-only)

The first one is the most classic one - teleconferencing. 

It serves to connect two or more geographically distant participants using only audio facilities. Teleconferences best suit small group gatherings, where everyone is actively participating in the discussion.

Pros:

  • Easy to organize, quick to connect
  • Don’t require leaving home
  • Cost-effective 
  • No need for the internet connection

Cons:

  • No possibility to see other team members, their reactions and gestures
  • Don’t allow making free conference calls
  • Require a fully charged phone and the positive balance
  • International calls may cost a fortune

As you can see, teleconferencing represents a more beneficial alternative to a plain audio call between two parties but has many issues that may influence the conversation quality and cost.

Video conferencing

What concerns video conferencing, its chief purpose is to arrange real-time video meetings through the camera. This technology is highly convenient for enterprises, having employees working from different cities or countries. The most popular events involving video conferencing are interviewing job candidates, holding negotiations, and ordinary business meetings - daily briefings, team get-togethers, progress checks, brainstorming, and others. 

Pros:

  • Save time and expenses on business trips
  • Connect interlocutors visually
  • Much more personal communication due to the possibility to see each other

Cons:

  • Calling stability and quality depend on the reliability and speed of the data connection
  • Require a good camera for better video experience

There’s no doubt that this kind of conference is a more efficient way to communicate because it expands the communication borders. But still, it requires a stable connection and quality video facilities.

Web conferencing

Running virtual meetings is the most popular way to communicate remotely. 

Web conferencing may be used at all kinds of remote meetings, ranging from everyday get-togethers of a group of friends or coworkers to large webinars involving thousands of viewers. 

It combines video & audio communication with a bunch of advanced online meeting tools, which turn a casual conversation into a fully immersive and interactive process. 

Pros:

  • A broad variety of virtual meeting platforms on the market
  • Full set of tools needed for effective remote working and communication
  • Possibility to use the software free of charge
  • Possibility to make international unlimited calls

Cons:

  • Require stable internet connection
  • A limited number of participants

You are free to choose the most appropriate type of web-based meeting for your personal needs by trying each of the above-mentioned. But we recommend trying yourself in online meetings, because of their high convenience and a huge range of chat tools.

When to choose virtual meetings over face-to-face meetings?

Now, when you know what a virtual conference is, its types, and benefits, let’s figure out what is the best time to conduct meetings with your partners, colleagues, or friends using remote connection services.

When your team is international

It becomes normal to have employees working all around the globe. The best way to run business meetings in an international company is to use conference call software. It will help to synchronize working hours according to multiple time zones and connect everyone for quick problem solving and ideas generation.

When dealing with potential clients

In most cases, negotiations with clients or partners may take a long time to come to a successful result. So companies prefer to save precious time and hold preliminary meetings on the web. They may include answering some basic questions or sharing general information and documents.

To save money on transport logistics

It may happen that your team is somewhere abroad on a business trip, or a customer from another country wants to ask some questions about a product or service. Would you agree that booking tickets to resolve all the issues doesn't make any sense? That’s what virtual meetings are exactly made for!

When you don’t have another option

Sometimes there is no other way to communicate than through an online call. Thankfully, it’s now as easy as never. They’re a true lifebelt for all kinds of companies during the crisis caused by COVID-19 and the restrictions imposed on communication in reality.

How to conduct a virtual meeting successfully?

Imagine, you set up a call, start a chat, and in a few minutes understand that something is wrong. You end the session and start wondering what exactly caused the ineffective communication.

The answer is simple - you need to work on virtual meeting etiquette.

It’s almost similar to offline meeting etiquette, but has some peculiarities to keep in mind for a more effective virtual meeting:

  • Prepare in advance: look through the meeting agenda beforehand.
  • Schedule meetings at the most suitable time for every participant and don't forget to send a meeting invite
  • It’s crucial to understand how to open a virtual meeting, so at the beginning of the event introduce yourself and other people.
  • Go to a quiet place where no one can interrupt your conversation.
  • Mute your phone and turn off the notifications.
  • Don’t get distracted by other tasks during business video conferencing.
  • Don’t interrupt other parties.
  • Put yourself on mute while you’re keeping silent.

Keeping everyone involved

Controlling everybody in your team working and staying focused on a task may be difficult. Let’s examine a few tips on how to keep everyone concentrated.

Try small talks

It’s easy to get bored discussing business issues for long hours. So an informal chat before a meeting and on breaks is always a good idea. This helps everyone to relax and feel more comfortable during stressful negotiations. This also provides the opportunity to get to know each other better, develop relationships, and make each member feel their importance.

Share roles and responsibilities

When people know why they are invited to a conference, they are less likely to skip it. Divide tasks between all the participants: that way they will come prepared and concentrate on their duties. Doing so will make interlocutors feel they play active roles and will take part in the conversation more actively.

How to end a virtual meeting 

Devote some minutes at the end of a conference to some kind of conclusion. Make a short summary of what was discussed, repeat the main points to confirm everyone has a clear vision of the future work. This will prevent unnecessary questions and save your time.

For or Against?

If you still haven’t decided whether remote meetings are a useful technology or not, just take a look at the table, where we gathered all the pros and cons of virtual meetings.

Advantages

Disadvantages

No time and money spent on traveling to the office or another place. 

The necessity to bear in mind the time difference and working hours of each person, which may lead to difficulties in gathering everyone together.

Usually, virtual meeting software doesn’t require a large sum of money or special equipment to organize a conference.

Still, it can be hard for some people to participate at full capacity due to the lack of technical knowledge.

Online gatherings don’t require much effort to attend. It’s a perfect option for busy employees or those who're on the road.

Require a stable connection to sustain quality communication, especially with the camera on.

Provide the opportunity to bring together people who wouldn't normally have a chance to meet one another. 

Participants may feel a lack of real-life communication.

Ability to work and stay in touch any time of the day without loss of productivity.

It can be problematic to manage and control what participants do during their working hours.

Web meetups don’t require space to gather all the participants. They offer virtual meeting rooms, where everyone takes part in the conversation, no matter how many people are invited.

Most of the services set limits on the number of attendees, making it hard to organize a large event without an additional fee.

And the last thing…

No matter how big your company is or how many people engage in a virtual call, choosing the right collaboration tools for managing business conference calls is essential.

If you look through all the possible options the market offers, you will understand that choosing an ideal service, which satisfies all your requirements is rather challenging.

Here is a list of questions to ask before making up your mind:

1) Does it have a free plan to try before signing up for a paid version?

You will be a lucky one if the first installed app becomes the perfect option for your business. But more often, it takes a dozen services to test before you’ll find an ideal. So it’s better to use a free trial and delete an unsuitable app than to waste money on useless services.

2) Can the program sync meeting invitations with a phone calendar?

This will save you and other participants much time because no one will forget or miss any scheduled session. Some of the applications, including Whoosh, offer the help of a personal assistant, who can analyze your working hours and suggest the most appropriate conference time.

3) Can it record missed virtual meetings?

Being able to familiarize yourself with the information shared at the meeting you skipped is highly important. It’s more convenient to have a chance to work on some urgent issues without taking breaks on countless briefings.

4) Can you chat with other remote team members during a conference call?

Modern tools allow participants to type questions and comments in real-time in a special chat window. It’s handy at large events when interruptions are undesirable.

5) Can you touch up yourself and the space around you?

Some online meeting services allow hiding the chaos of your home working place using virtual backgrounds. For instance, Whoosh can highlight your natural beauty by applying its AI-powered touch-up tools.

6) Can you share the screen with other meeting participants in real-time?

When it comes to business meetings, webinars, and presentations, showing documents right on your screen is a very convenient tool. That's why almost every modern virtual meeting software includes the feature of screen sharing.

7) Are there team-building features?

A good application for web gatherings can boast of a great variety of mini-games, quizzes, and interactive tools, like funny masks and filters included in their software. These amusing features are a huge asset when it comes to keeping everyone engaged during the conversation.

Ready to hop on your first virtual meeting?

After reading the article, it may seem that making conference calls is very simple or rather hard. Don’t worry! As the proverb says - practice makes perfect! The same is with online communication.

If the search for the most convenient app tires you up, don’t waste your time and try our own service for outstanding video calls - Whoosh. More information about the app and how it works you can find on our official website. We’ll be happy if you join us!

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