What Is a Virtual Meeting? (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When working remotely, you may be wondering how to conduct a virtual meeting. These meetings allow coworkers to communicate from various locations. By knowing how to participate in online meetings, you increase efficiency and maintain connections with those around you. In this article, we discuss the definition of online meetings, provide you with information about how these meetings work, discuss why they're beneficial, provide several types of online meetings, show you how to conduct an online meeting, and provide you etiquette for these meetings.

What is a virtual meeting?

A virtual meeting is a meeting between people who are in different locations and communicate with each other with the help of video, audio and text messaging technology. The information is instantly transmitted via the internet, allowing the participants to have a real-time discussion. They connect through various dedicated applications that they install on their computers, smartphones, tablets, or other similar devices.

Related: How to Write an Effective Meeting Agenda (With a Template and Example)

How do virtual meetings work?

Most online meetings occur online by using applications that work on multiple devices and platforms, therefore allowing everyone involved to access the meeting regardless of the device they choose to use. Employees and team members receive invitation links to online meetings. The virtual meeting room typically shows all the participants' names, along with their live video image or still picture. Virtual meetings also have a chat area where participants can exchange text-based information. These meetings either have one presenter who runs the meeting, instructs others and shares files in the content window, or have no main presenter, with participants taking turns in expressing their ideas and sharing various pieces of information.

Why are virtual meetings beneficial?

Here are some benefits of virtual meetings:

Connections

Virtual meetings allow individuals to connect from any location, which reduces feelings of isolation and doesn't require an in-office location. Colleagues and team members can connect anywhere permitted they have an internet connection. This eliminates the need for all participants to be in one geographical location and subsequently increases accessibility.

Cost-efficiency

Compared to physical meetings, which may require a location, travel arrangements, hotel accommodation, transportation, and other expenses, virtual meetings usually require relatively low expenses. Participants typically already use internet-connected computers and mobile devices, meaning there is no need to purchase dedicated equipment in most situations. By reducing overall requirements and equipment, these meetings are more cost-efficient for both employers and employees.

Information distribution

Participants in a virtual meeting can freely share video, audio, and text-based information in real-time. This facilitates the exchange of information between team members. You can record meetings to ensure someone reviews them at a later time. They may require review if some participants were late or couldn't attend.

Increased productivity

By eliminating the need for physical presence and enabling participants to easily share information, online meetings have increased productivity than in-person meetings. Their convenience and ease of use allow participants to collaborate more efficiently and potentially make better decisions as a result. Users of online meetings also experience increased productivity because they occur at any time, and you can call your colleagues throughout the day to collaborate about projects. Those who participate in physical meetings may experience distractions or discuss personal matters both before and after the meeting.

Online meetings have specific agendas, and anyone within those meetings can hear the topics discussed. This reduces the amount of personal discussion within meetings.

Increased eco-friendliness

Eliminating the need for travel and for other physical items like pieces of paper, online meetings have a much lower carbon footprint than in-person meetings. These meetings also experience increase eco-friendliness because of reduced transportation to and from meetings. Aside from the energy used to charge mobile devices and computers, the carbon footprint of these meetings is significantly reduced.

Types of online meetings

Here is a list of common types of virtual meetings:

Teleconference

A teleconference refers to virtual meetings between at least two peoples who have different locations. The conferences occur with the help of equipment like phones, various internet services, and messaging apps. Most teleconferences typically have audio equipment, along with audio-graphic equipment that helps individuals share both charts and graphics with others. These conferences are popular among those who want to conduct meetings quickly and at any location. These conferences also require less preparation than physical conferences because they don't require the organization of locations and equipment to the same extent of physical conferences.

Video conference

A video conference is a type of online meeting where participants connect from dedicated video conferencing platforms using their computers or mobile devices. The platforms allow participants to share various types of information, such as diagrams, charts, pictures, video, and other presentation materials in real-time. These conferences allow you to see and hear others in the conference. Companies typically use video conferences of all sizes or information sharing, conducting interviews, employee training, and other similar purposes.

Web conference

A web conference is similar to a video conference, with the primary difference being that web conferences don't require participants to see each other. You conduct these conferences through web applications, though they can also provide audio-only or text-based conferences. Companies use web conferences for webinars, virtual training programs, and presentations, webcasts, team meetings and others.

Virtual event

Virtual events are online versions of in-person sales events. They're typically components of a company's marketing strategy when launching a new product or service. These meetings can be virtual presentations, live product demonstrations, Q&A sessions with the product developers, and other similar events. Companies also host virtual trade shows if they have multiple products that they need to show to audiences who can't physically attend events.

Related:How to Start a New Job Virtually

How to conduct a successful online meeting

Here's a guide to help you conduct a successful online meeting:

1. Use videos

While you can conduct meetings through only audio and visual presentations, you may want to use visuals to increase attendance and maintain the interest of participants. By using visuals, you can see those within the conference and observe their facial expressions. This helps identify whether the participants remain engaged with the material. If some participants have bad webcam placement, you may want to tell them about this and ask them to adjust their webcam.

2. Test connection

When conducting a meeting, you can test your internet connection to ensure you have a stable connection before the start of the meeting. You may want to remind the participants that they require a strong connection before they join the meeting. This avoids delays in videos and ensures that your team transfers all information in real-time. By promoting strong internet connections, you can increase productivity and efficiency.

3. Provide flexibility

Consider providing participants with an audio-only option during meetings. This ensures that those who can't join through a webcam have the opportunity to participate in your meeting. This flexibility increases overall participation and increases the comfort of participants.

4. Discuss the agenda

When conducting online meetings, consider sending the agenda to your participants before starting the meeting. This ensures that all participants know what to expect in your meeting. When you begin the online meeting, consider reiterating the agenda for those who require clarity.

Related: How to Make a Meeting Agenda: Tips, Template, and Example

5. Be concise

Consider how you can shorten your presentation and be more concise. This ensures you maintain the concentration of participants and increases the available time for discussion. Consider asking participants for their opinions throughout the meeting to promote this discussion.

Related: How to Take Meeting Minutes: a Step-Wise Approach

What is online meeting etiquette?

Here are some things to consider about online meeting etiquette:

  • Discuss attendance: If you can't attend the meeting, consider sending a message to the other participants. This ensures no participants wait for your arrival.

  • Develop your agenda: While you want to share your agenda prior to the meeting, you may also want to develop a clear and concise agenda that considers the needs of all participants. This allows you to accomplish all objectives.

  • Mute your microphone: When you're not speaking, you may want to mute your microphone to ensure no participants hear your background noise.

  • Consider timeliness: When attending online meetings, consider setting alarms to ensure your timeliness.

  • Dress appropriately: If the meeting is formal, you may want to consider whether your outfit is appropriate.

  • Consider lighting: Test your webcam before the meeting to ensure you have appropriate lighting. You may find it beneficial to place yourself with the lighting next to you.

  • Consider attentiveness: When attending online meetings, you may want to ask yourself whether you have the capacity to demonstrate attentiveness throughout the meeting. By providing consistent attentiveness, you ensure you learn more.

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