With much of the world in lockdown or under ‘stay at home’ orders, many employees are finding themselves working remotely for the first time.  In fact, an article by Forbes estimates that ‘almost six in ten American knowledge workers are now working remotely as of March 19th’.  

Remote working and uncertain times equates to an increase in virtual meetings. Virtual meetings are essential to talk about the impact of COVID-19 on business as well as being fundamental in maintaining connection between employees.

Connecting to your dispersed employees, however, may feel like one of the most overwhelming challenges of this crisis.  Fear not.  Our guide offers all the tips you need to record and transcribe a successful virtual meeting during COVID-19 or anytime for that matter.

Importance of Recording & Transcribing Virtual Meetings

At home workers are under more pressure than ever during this crisis. Overnight they’ve become caretakers, chefs, teachers, babysitters, and house cleaners: quadrupling up on roles.  Maintaining focus and finding a quiet moment to jump on every virtual meeting put in one’s diary during this global lockdown will be impossible.  There are simply other pressing priorities.  Recording and transcribing all virtual meetings can help individuals in your organization catch up content later, when time allows, if they have to miss a meeting.

Additionally, many businesses are quickly having to change the way they do work, meaning that meetings are full of more decisions and action points than ever before. Recording and transcribing each virtual meeting provides accurate and quick notes of everything that was said.  

No matter what video conferencing platform you choose to host your virtual meeting, be sure to record and transcribe your meeting.  Zoom Meetings, Skype Meeting, or GoToMeeting platforms all offer easy ways to record.

Tips For a Successful Virtual Meeting

1. Circulate Agenda & Virtual Meeting Rules in Advance

Circulating an agenda in advance helps keep the meeting on track.  Additionally noting where you expect employees to brainstorm ideas, present content, or provide information leads to a more structured and productive discussion.

If this is your first virtual meeting, it is also advised to include a set of meeting rules and reminders along with the agenda. These rule could include:

  • Wear appropriate meeting attire from the waist up as video cameras will be used.
  • Consider your background. Choose a neutrel, professional background. Some platforms, like Zoom Meetings, offer virtual backgrounds for you to upload.
  • Check your lighting. If possible, sit a lamp next to your computer so your face is highlighted.
  • Use a headset or earbuds.
  • Raise your virtual hand before speaking or ask a question in the meeting chatbox.

2. Record Every Meeting

As mentioned above, recording every meeting provides an accurate record of what was said and what actions are needed.  This ensures that every attendee present and absent knows what was discussed.

3. Demo the Platform Before You Start

There are dozens of video conferencing platforms out there.  Whilst they all have similar functions, the controls are not all the same.  Additionally, it may be the first time that some of your attendees have logged into a video conferencing platform. To this end, before you start any meeting, begin with a demonstration of the basic functions of the platform.  Explain to all attendees how to mute and unmute, how to pause and allow video. If you plan to use the chat box or polling functions, be sure to explain these functions too.

Note: Encourage all participants to turn on video if they are comfortable doing so. This face-to-face interaction helps everyone feel more connected.

3. Mute All Participants

Once you start the main content of the meeting, it is advised to mute all participants. The purpose of muting participants when they aren't speaking is to limit distracting noises and interjections.  

Consider these possible scenarios: A mom suddenly shouting out to her five year old not to stick a metal fork in a power socket. Or a cat suddenly jumping onto an attendees lap digging their claws in.  

For these and other unexpected instances, it is advised to mute all participants and only allow an attendee to unmute themselves when called upon.  This should reduce embarrassment for all and improve productivity.

4. Introduce Speakers

If you are a small group of 4 to 10 employees that don’t know each other, it is advised to spend a few minutes at the start of a meeting going around introducing names and job functions.  

However if you are a large group of over 10 or if all of your attendees know each other well, it is advised that the host of the meeting calls out the attendees name before they speak or ask attendees to say their name and their job title/function before speaking.

Doing this will help with assigning names in the transcript later which will make it clear who said what and who is required to do what.  

5. Be Mindful and Inclusive

Gaging understanding and interest from attendees is much harder in virtual meetings.  For one, you are staring a multiple small video head shots, which makes picking up visual cues that we normally rely on difficult.  

To ensure that all participants feel included and to ensure that all participants understand important points, the host should frequently pause to ask if there are any questions.  The host should also remind attendees that they can use the chat window to ask questions and share their thoughts.  

For example, I recently had a virtual meeting attendee whose video and audio would not work. The attendee could only use the chat window.  I regularly tried to include that attendee by asking him a question directly and then reading back the attendees answer in the chat box to the group.  

6. Transcribe Virtual Meeting Audio to Text

After the virtual meeting has ended, upload the audio file to Happy Scribe, who can convert your virtual meeting audio to text in a matter of minutes.  Once your text file is ready, open your transcript and use the proofreader to assign names to speakers and make any minor adjustments. Happy Scribe's built in editor helps by highlighting in any potential errors in red.  

7. Send Out Meeting Minutes

Finally, once your virtual meeting audio has been converted to text, you should send all participants a copy of the minutes.

Virtual meetings during the time of COVID-19 don't have to be daunting.  By following these tips along with recording and transcribing your audio to text, you can ensure a successful virtual meeting.