We’ve all sat through some awful meetings, whether they be virtual, in person, or somewhere in between. Sometimes we know from the very beginning that it’s going to be a gong show. We’ve arrived on time but nobody’s there, you just got the invite last night and there’s no agenda and very little description in the subject line, or the meeting host is late and arrives frazzled and aloof. You know in the first 2 minutes that this is either going to be a complete waste of everyone’s time or you’re stressing because you’d rather be doing a million other far more urgent tasks.
Sadly, we can’t always control the incompetency of others, but we can certainly lead by example. In our last blog article, we discussed all the things that could go wrong during a virtual meeting. As a follow up, here are some additional tips for planning and executing your next meeting, whether it is virtual, remote, hybrid or flexible in nature.
1. Ensure you have all the right people at the table. Make sure everyone on the invite list and needs to be there is sent an invite with agenda, etc. attached well in advance. Invite who you need. Leave off those who don’t need to be there.
2. What can be before or after the meeting to save time? To save time, ask yourself if there is anything you can ask folks to do before or after the meeting. If there is pre-work, provide all the resources necessary to complete it in your invite, (attachments, links, etc.) If there is post-work, line up the resources for those tasks in advance and send them out afterwards. What communication and follow-up pathways for these items do you need to consider?
3. Keep the pace moving and engaging. If the pacing is reasonably quick, this will ensure that attendees are focusing on your meeting and are too busy to multitask or be distracted. by competing forces.
4. Watch for and expect technology glitches. Know your platform and practice it so you are well prepared. And always have a backup device on hand if you have to log off and on again, or need to connect to the internet differently.
5. Get out of the rut with roles. Especially for a team that meets regularly. This will allow team members to take turns being note-taker/scribe and timekeeper. Have a scribe/note-taker capture the minutes and circulate it after the meeting.
6. Be strong on process. This includes letting people know what they can expect from the process, following the agenda, as well as an understanding of how you will be working with time, what level of engagement you expect, and how there will be engagement “around the room” whether in person, virtually or in a hybrid/flex environment.
7. Set a clear focus for the meeting. Have a clear agenda with time frames assigned and stick to them as much as possible. Respect peoples’ time by sticking to time frames, especially on global teams. Have a game plan for what absolutely needs to be covered and what can wait, (See previous blog article.)
8. Create “ways of working” and shared agreements. Have some mutually agreed practices around how you will operate, especially around focus. Will you all appear on camera? Are you all on mute unless speaking? What do you do when you need to step away or wish to speak?
9. Consider multiple feedback loops. Ask for feedback as you go. Take a “temperature check” or have people identify what they have learned so far.
10. Consider the best platform to use. The type of meeting you are hosting will influence the platform. Is a conference call the best way to go? Or an email? Do you have the capacity to choose a virtual platform or tool based on the features you need? (i.e. MS Teams vs Zoom features). If you introduce a new tool or platform, give everyone clear and easy instructions for setup and logging in with your initial invite so you don’t waste time.
11. Make things visual. Whether you’re note-taking, using a whiteboard, or following a slide deck, making the experience visual will boost engagement. Moreover, using interactive features like polls, chat, annotate, sticky notes, or multi-colored markers/text will take your engagement to the next level. What visual anchors can you create in your work?
Pro-Tip: Bookmark this blog article and the next time you’re trapped in the spiral of “Death by Conference Call,” revisit this list. As a leader, feel free to share it with your team during your next meeting. If you’re coaching an individual client, group or team who struggles with maximizing their meetings, what questions can you ask them to insight awareness based on this list?
If your organization or coaching clients are struggling with maximizing their time during virtual, remote, hybrid or flexible meetings, and you're looking for some insight, feel free to book a free 15 minute consultation with Jennifer Britton and she would be happy to assist.
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