Working remotely means meeting remotely. Most of our clients live elsewhere, so we already did our fair share of virtual meetings. These past shelter-from-home weeks, though, have spurred us to up our game.

I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of the various platforms – Zoom, Join.Me, GoToMeeting, Skype for Business, Google Hangouts and more. And I’ll avoid about the importance of your surroundings and screen presence, as colleague Barry Owens just covered that territory in this tip-filled column. Instead, I want to focus on proper etiquette (without being too Miss Manners) and ways to maximize your time together.

Test in Advance

If you know your client has never used the selected platform, set up a test meeting with your primary contact. Send basic instructions then walk him through any sticky wickets. Once he feels comfortable, suggest he do a trial meeting with his internal team. You don’t want to spend the first 15 minutes of the actual meeting scrambling to get people on, to get their cameras working, or to get them off mute.

Build in Talk Time

Just as in a face-to-face meeting, take time to be social in virtual meetings. Acknowledge each person in the meeting at the outset and give each a chance to speak then and at deliberate check ins throughout the meeting. You should be pausing at least every 10 minutes to hear from others.

virtual meetings presentation screen

Simplify and Visualize

Make content big and bold. Let photography, video, illustrations and infographics tell your story. Don’t write out all your points. Keep copy to a minimum.

Number Everything

Make it easy to reference key messages and data by numbering your slides and bullet points.

Clock Meetings under 90 Minutes

Schedule additional meetings if you can’t cover what you need to in an hour and a half. After that, you lose people to their emails, texting or just zoning out. For our discovery workshops, which we held over a morning or afternoon when we could meet face to face, we now do over three consecutive days. They’ve been working great.

Silver Linings in This Cloud

A big benefit has been that we’re getting more people to participate since video conferencing doesn’t involve travel or time out of the office. And we’re getting more C-suite participants. Could be because they, too, are no longer in the office and suddenly have time to contribute. It could also be they realize it’s time for fresh thinking and solutions. Believe me. We agree.