Whether you’re working remotely by choice or by necessity, it’s imperative to have effective meetings with your team.
Keep your remote meetings high energy, on topic, and on the shorter side, and your coworkers will be much happier when it’s time to log into Zoom or get on the conference call.
That’s where agenda templates come in. By having the right remote meeting template for every meeting, you can turn aimless virtual sessions into compelling and effective meetings.
The template sets the norms for every meeting. If you want to have better remote meetings, use a template that encourages best practices, and you’ll be well on your way.
On this page, we have many free agenda templates for all the most common types of virtual meetings.
All of the sample remote meeting agendas on this page are available to use in a variety of ways:
- Download remote meeting templates as Word Docs
- Copy remote meeting templates as Google Docs
- Use remote meeting templates in Hugo (meeting notes app)
👉👉👉 QUICK NOTE: To preview all the templates, scroll down past this article.
But how do you put these remote meeting templates to their best use?
How do you ensure that your meeting is a success without being there in-person?
Below are some tips and insights for having successful remote meetings with these templates.
What constitutes a remote meeting?
While the COVID-19 pandemic made fully-remote meetings more common, remote meetings have been essentially around since the telephone’s invention.
Teams today hold remote meetings more and more often over video conferencing (e.g., Google Meet or Zoom). They may involve other meeting software such as some kind of shared meeting notes (e.g., Hugo), a virtual whiteboard (e.g., Miro), or some combination of all these tools together (e.g., Teamflow).
Everyone doesn’t need to be in a separate location for a meeting to count as a remote meeting. Some team members will be in the same physical place, and others will “call in.” It’s not uncommon to have two offices call each other for a remote meeting that connects two teams who are each together in their own conference room.
What are the main challenges of holding a remote meeting?
Here are some common issues with virtual meetings. Some, but not all, can be helped by creating an agenda based on a remote meeting template.
Remote meetings attendees struggle with focus.
Remote meetings are often critiqued as lacking the same energy and creativity as an in-person meeting. Especially when the video isn’t being used, it’s easier for attendees to tune out, check email, and surf social media without being noticed.
Remote meetings are impersonal.
Remote meetings also tend to miss out on “water cooler” chatter that naturally occurs in an office. This reduces knowledge transfer between team members and makes bonding and team building more challenging. For fully-remote companies, it’s hard for people to get to know each other.
Of course, some of these challenges are offset by benefits from being remote. No time is wasted traveling to and from the meeting venue. And, not counting intrusions by pets and children, workplace interrupts can be more drastic when people can see and hear everything in the room.
Changes to make when holding a meeting remotely vs. in-person
If you’re more comfortable meeting in person, connecting virtually with other people may seem jarring. Everyone’s head is crammed into a little square on your screen. Lighting and camera angles are unflattering. And with the slight lag, it’s hard not to talk over each other.
Put an open-ended section in your agenda template.
With one-on-one meetings and even team meetings, it’s nice to leave an opportunity for just a little bit of banter. We like to do this by having a section to “celebrate wins” in every team meeting. Anyone can celebrate anything they want, big and small. It’s an opportunity to share what’s going on in the virtual office without feeling forced.
Share your remote meeting agenda with everyone who is attending.
Having a clear agenda can help keep everyone on track (even distracted team members). But better yet, if you ask everyone to contribute to the agenda before the meeting — say by filling in some bullet points for their updates — you get them more invested. When it comes time to have your virtual meeting, they’ll be following along more closely.
For better remote meetings, prioritize audio quality.
Nothing slows down the momentum of a virtual meeting or conference call, like not being able to hear each other. Even slight delays while people repeat themselves can leave a cloud over the whole meeting. Video is helpful, but the audio is critical, so spend some time figuring it out.
Checklist: Actions to take to improve audio quality during a remote meeting
- Wear headphones to eliminate echo (and distractions)
- Mute yourself when not talking if you’re in a noisy environment
- Close unnecessary apps and browser tabs to free up computer resources
- Use an external microphone
For conference rooms, one tool we use a lot is MeetingOwl. MeetingOwl is a 360-degree camera and microphone that allows everyone in a room to gather around the table while giving remote participants the experience of being there in-person.
If you’re still struggling with audio, you may need to try a different video conferencing provider. For example, I’ve found that Zoom seems to process out a lot of background noise in real-time and tends to sound better than alternatives. (Keep this in mind when people are working from home under slower internet speeds.)
Remember, the ability of anyone to impact a meeting is dependent on their ability to communicate. Clear audio is required for clear communication.
What to do about unflattering camera angles during remote meetings
Once you’ve got your agenda in place using one of these templates and your audio sorted out using the above tips, you’ve still got one more area to tackle: the video.
Most of us aren’t used to being on camera so much. For virtual meetings, this creates additional stress and anxiety. Do I really look like that? Do I appear as professional, authoritative, and capable on the screen as I do in real life?
Move your camera further away and higher up.
If you’re using a laptop, try propping it up on some books or a stand during your remote meeting. A higher angle will allow the camera’s wide-angle lens to enlarge your eyes and face, not the bottom part of your chin. Moving the camera further away can also reduce some of the distortions.
Add a light source.
Interior lighting is often not very bright or positioned nicely. Something as simple as adding a lamp to your computer table at home can make a huge difference in how vibrant you look on screen. Whereas the light in your ceiling leaves shadows under your eyes, a light on the same level as your face will help eliminate under-eye shadows. Position it more in front than on the side to also fill in wrinkles.
Hide your image from yourself.
Many video conferencing tools allow you to hide yourself from the feed, helping when feeling self-conscious.
Here are the instructions for how to hide yourself in Zoom:
- Right-click your video to display the menu
- Choose Hide Myself
- You will no longer see the video of yourself, even though everyone else in the meeting can still see you
Phone Users: If you’re on a conference call, the remote meeting agenda template is even more critical
There are many types of virtual meetings (i.e., those on video conferencing, via the telephone, or a one-to-one phone call), but one of the most common is still the conference call.
With a conference call, participants dial into a group line, usually from meeting rooms in various offices (and sometimes home offices). There is no video component to this type of remote meeting.
Without a clear visual to maintain the group’s attention, a remote meeting agenda template becomes indispensable. You can verbally direct everyone to each agenda item.
Turn your virtual meeting agenda into meeting notes
You’ve read this article. You’re prepared to run a fantastic remote meeting!
Still, there’s one more thing to do. Turn your meeting agenda into a set of meeting notes. This is easy. As the meeting takes place, add in some minor bullet points of meaningful discussions, decisions, and next steps.
Check out this article for a guide to writing meeting notes that people will actually use.
Remote meeting template takeaways
Always prepare an agenda. Keep your meetings short, sweet, and on topic.
Use your remote meeting agenda template to set expectations before the meeting.
Write down all action items from your meeting in your meeting notes.