Another meeting that could have accomplished its goal easily by email, phone, or even text. In the wake of the pandemic with the pivot to virtual meetings, as least from where I sit, the epidemic of ineffective meetings has only increased. Just because you can meet virtually doesn’t mean you should. Look, I get it! We are all looking to connect with the people we are used to working with daily, to keep up with clients, and check in with staff but if we don’t do it correctly, we are wasting time and decreasing morale and connectivity
So how do we make a virtual meeting worth it? Here are our top 4 tips!
1. Decide if you need actually need a meeting.
Do you even need a meeting? Ask yourself and/or team if decisions need to be made at this time and if multiple people are needed for those decisions. You may need to do a strategic planning session for a project. If this is true than a meeting is necessary. If you are doing a meeting just for updates, is it something that could be done via email weekly and then you meet biweekly or quarterly for support and decisions. Meetings just to report out are not necessary or productive in the majority of situation. Simply ask yourself if the meeting could be accomplished with an email if so, it is time to pivot.
2. Identify the goal of the meeting.
Have a clearly defined agenda and make sure attendees get it in advance. If you know questions you will be asking or have information that needs to be reviewed, send it out prior to the meeting. This is even more crucial in a virtual setting when people can not easily read body language or brief each other before the meeting.
3. Be intentional about fostering relationships.
Part of the power of team partner/client meetings is they build comradery usually with the niceties and updating that come before and after meetings. If you are hosting a meeting, get on at least 15 min early and welcome people as they come in, play music, ask about their family, etc. Be intentional! Give people roles ahead of time so more than one person is leading the meeting.
4. Be Ready with Plan A, B, and C!
Think through how you can facilitate the same meeting in different ways. If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we need a plan A, B, and C. Technology will fail us at some point and you need to be ready, but also some types of facilitation practices might not work with the given audience in the virtual setting the way you would have done in person. Your goal is for maximum engagement so being able to transition quickly to a new tactic is important. For instance, if a larger group is not providing the feedback needed, be ready to quickly break them out into groups with a task to solicit the needed feedback. If you planned breakouts and the technology is failing to allow the break outs to happen have facilitation questions ready and start strategically calling on key stakeholders.
The point of meetings is to get work done and collaborate. Being strategic about what needs to be achieved and doing the proper planning work up front will ensure your meetings are effective virtually. Remember the more productive your meetings the more people will be engaged and look forward to doing the work!
KM Clark Consulting Group
President & Founder