Remember the days of coveting a chance to work from home? Funny how within a matter of weeks the idea of those in-person meetings doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
These days, we’re all doing our best to work collaboratively, which for many of us means hosting our fair share of virtual meetings. According to Harvard Business Review, there are four main reasons to hold a meeting: to influence others, to make decisions, to solve problems or to strengthen relationships. Since all of these are active processes, passive passengers in a meeting rarely do quality work. The precondition for effective meetings — virtual or otherwise — is voluntary engagement.
We get it — easier said than done. That’s why we’ve compiled some best practices that, when done before, during and after a virtual meeting, will help you better engage with your team.
BEFORE THE MEETING:
- Ask yourself: do you really need one? When working remotely, it can be tempting to schedule more meetings than necessary. Take a moment and consider whether you could achieve the desired outcome via virtual chat, email or a shared document instead. If you can accomplish your goal without a virtual meeting, don’t meet.
- Get organized. Resist the urge to send a meeting invite with just a subject line.Take a few minutes to establish an agenda and share it with the attendees in your initial invitation. This will help everyone prepare and ensure maximum efficiency.
- Set expectations. Should people mute upon joining? Should everyone use video? Identify and communicate expectations up front and share in the calendar invitation so people can be prepared. Generally, it is recommended for people to use video in collaborative meetings to keep the conversation focused, to feel more connected and to avoid multi-tasking.
DURING THE MEETING:
- Start with an icebreaker. It’s important to reinforce interpersonal relationships when people may be feeling isolated. Encourage camaraderie among your team by dedicating a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to allow employees to catch up, engage or share a laugh.
- Identify the problem or goal. Start your meeting by succinctly painting the picture of the problem you are trying to solve. Providing context will establish direction and help keep your meeting on track.
- Gather real-time feedback. Tools like Poll Everywhere can collect real-time data and feedback from attendees during the meeting. This is especially helpful in virtual meetings where visual cues are more difficult to read.
- Allow time for questions at the end. Remember that during the call, most people will have their microphones on mute. If you are asking for feedback or questions, wait a few seconds longer than usual to give your team the chance to speak up. In larger groups, encourage participants to use the chat function to ask questions.
AFTER THE MEETING:
- Send a follow-up and recap. This will remind participants of the main points of the meeting and help everyone stay accountable to immediate next steps, action items and deadlines. If applicable, provide a link to the presentation deck and/or meeting recording.
- Keep the conversation going. Provide a forum for further conversation around the topics covered in the meeting. People can be shy about speaking up during meetings, so this provides another opportunity to do so.
Need assistance keeping your team engaged in this new virtual environment? We have lots of tips to share to ensure your team’s success. Contact us today. We look forward to helping you build a more engaged and resilient community together.