April 21, 2021
By Sarah Goodwyn

A remote meeting is a gathering between people in different locations using a virtual meeting platform. They are becoming commonplace in our “new normal” causing the events industry to reimagine how we do meetings. They require us to find new ways to connect with one another and keep attendees engaged virtually. This has completely transformed how we think about and execute events.

As we increase the number of remote meetings, we are realizing that they are events in their own right. This realization has caused us to rethink how we view events – they can now take place anywhere and have attendees from everywhere with fewer limits on their reach. Event planners are now event producers and no longer are bound by in-person logistics. They have gained new skill that will open new doors to them for event production.

Why Should I Host Remote Meetings?

Remote meetings, just like in-person events, have one main purpose – fostering connections. Since we are all no longer traveling to events, we are less likely to meet with and talk to people we don’t know. Virtual events fulfill our need for human connection, even if it’s at a distance

Socialization

Remote meetings are a great way to foster socialization. Internally, they allow people from different departments to meet and engage. They allow attendees to collaborate with people they normally would never have known or gotten the chance to work with. Their collaboration could be the difference between a good year and a great year.

For external meetings, your attendees can socialize with one another and make appointments with exhibitors. The exhibitors/sponsors can provide attendees a service they are searching for or attendees may be able to learn about a new product offering. Post-event, your exhibitors are able to follow up on the leads your event provided them, all because you gave them a forum to create a connection. Their single connection could turn into a lasting partnership all thanks to your event. Check out our Guide to Virtual Trade Shows and Digital Booths for more ideas!

Global Reach

Your attendees can connect over a vast distance while attending a remote meeting. The attendees can connect from one continent to another without needing to travel. In-person events are limited by capacities and travel approvals. Remote meetings don’t have those same constraints. Attendees can connect with others on the other side of the world.

Your remote meetings or events can also have a larger capacity. The idea of a virtual meeting opened up doors we didn’t always think about before. For example, we no longer have to limit our event to a certain number due to venue constraints. We can now use remote meeting technology to bring in those who maybe cannot travel for whatever reason or are not able to be in the venue. Not only can the event hold more attendees, more attendees want to attend. At Cvent, we’ve noticed 8x-10x the number of registrations for remote events versus their in-person counterparts. More attendees means more impact.

Maintain Relationships

When we do return to in-person events, you want attendees to remember who hosted the amazing events they attended while they couldn’t travel and continue to move forward with their businesses. Remote meetings are a great way to do that! They allow events to reach a new audience as well as capturing the same audience as usual.

External events give attendees a chance to get to know your company whether you are virtual or in-person. You still want your customers to have that facetime with their account team or get to experience your latest product. With a remote meeting, you can connect with your attendees. That can be a simple meeting between the account team and the customer or a larger user conference telling customers about the great developments you have coming down the pipeline.

 

Internal Strategy Meetings and Sales Kickoffs

With employees spread far and wide during the pandemic, we’ve learned that remote work can be successful. More often than not, it appears the real struggle of remote work is not in getting employees to do their work but in ensuring employees still feel connected and can collaborate as effectively as in the office. When once employees could walk into a meeting or talk strategy at a colleague’s desk, many strategic conversations take place virtually. Remote companywide meetings or sales kickoffs can ensure those important strategy conversations still happen despite the distance.

How Do I Keep Attendees Engaged?

Engage attendees during remote meetings

We have all heard about meeting fatigue…especially pertaining to virtual meetings. A great way to combat meeting fatigue is to keep your attendees engaged. We know it won’t be exactly like meeting with everyone in person, but you can still interact with one another and continue to make connections. There is science-based research on how the best ways to host remote meetings, best practices include using video and sharpening your agenda. 

Have an Icebreaker

When you are hosting a meeting where the speaker and attendees are present in the same room, the first few minutes can be filled with silence. Begin breaking that silence with an icebreaker. You can do something as simple as asking attendees to introduce themselves with an interesting fact. Many people think because you can’t get up and greet people you can’t do an icebreaker, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! For a more intimate experience, use breakout rooms to create smaller groups where attendees feel comfortable sharing.

Keep Time In Mind

We all have had those days when we are in back-to-back virtual meetings and suffer from “Zoom fatigue.” When you are planning a remote meeting, you want to keep this in mind. You don’t want your attendees to go too long without a break. Remember that attendees are no longer changing rooms after each session and constantly moving, rather, they are generally sitting in one place. Make sessions a manageable length and add in time between sessions. This will give attendees a quick breather to run to grab coffee, get a snack, or run to the bathroom. Better remote meetings are individualized and keep attendees top of mind. 

Don’t Digress

While you want to have conversations about new topics that come up during your remote meeting, you need to keep to an agenda or stay on the session topic. This will help you stay within the assigned time constraints. Build in time for Q&A at the end of the session. That way you’ll get through your content and still engage attendees without derailing the session.

Give Everyone a Chance to Participate

Attendees are generally more engaged if you utilize tools like polling, live Q&A, chat, or allow them to unmute themselves. It breaks up speaking and keeps their eyes on the screen, ready for new insturctions.

During in-person events, polling was a main source of audience engagement and it still can be. To promote networking, you could start the meeting with a poll about something unrelated to the meeting, so everyone can get to know each other on a personal level.

Live Q&A gives attendees a chance to interact with presenters. It helps the attendee feel that presenters aren’t just talking at them but talking with them. The questions they ask may help you tailor content for a future event if you decide to present on that topic again.

Session Chat allows attendees to speak with one another easily through a messaging system. Having chat can allow attendees to get troubleshooting help easily as needed and ultimately help determine the difference between a good experience and a great experience.

Depending on the type and size of the event, you may want to make sure all voices are heard during the remote meeting. In a smaller meeting focused on networking or discussion, giving equal speaking time is important. For those attendees who arne’t as quick to speak, be sure to give them an opportunity to share their thoughts. Either find a time where you can call on them to speak or where they can contribute their voice in one of the mediums mentioned above. You never know, they may have an idea or position no one has thought about yet and their opinion could lead to an entirely new discussion that could be the most memorable part of your meeting.

Use the Right Platform for Your Meeting

When you are planning a remote meeting, you want to be sure you have the correct technology to host your remote meeting. A web conferencing tool like Zoom or WebEx works for a smaller internal meeting. If you are looking to host a department-wide meeting or your flagship user conference, you probably want to look at using a virtual event platform.

Virtual event platforms are created to support larger meetings with various video viewing options and more interactive features. Your general meeting technology is usually made for just that – a meeting. Choose the correct technology for your needs.

Listen to Feedback

Given that remote meetings are here to stay, you should strive to improve them where you can, and that means listening to feedback. Have attendees take a survey after your event to let you know what they did and did not like about their event experience. Implementing their feedback will improve your next event and keep attendees coming back for more.

Will Remote Meetings Ever Go Away?

We are all looking forward to the day we can once again meet with people face-to-face, but we also see the value to of having a remote/virtual component to your meetings. So, will remote meetings ever go away? Not completely. There will still be a virtual component when we return to in-person events.

There is a good chance hybrid events will become more popular than ever before. The number of attendees you can reach virtually is unmatched.

Because of remote meetings, Event planners have new skills they can bring into the market that include technology expertise, marketing skills, and more.

Sarah Goodwyn

Sarah Goodwyn

After graduating from the University of Virginia, I joined Cvent in the Client Services department where I wrote for the Cvent Community. Now, I bring my product expertise to our Sales Enablement team as a Senior Associate. When I am not writing blogs for the Cvent Community, you can find me baking cookies and cakes, watching House episodes on repeat, or riding my Peloton.
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