12 Tips for Leading Effective Virtual Meetings

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Who can admit to doing the following on a virtual meeting?

  • Multitasked
  • Been distracted
  • Dozed off
  • Taken the phone into the bathroom
  • Taken the meeting off on a tangent
  • Been too long-winded in making a point
  • Tried to make an important point while on mute
  • Have rarely looked into the webcam
  • Not raised a question because I want to get off the call and get on with important work

I am guilty of all of these. These are not good practices, and we can all do better.  There are many lists of tips for successful meetings, but I think there is one golden rule:

Design virtual meetings for interactivity

What a virtual meeting leader must do is to design a meeting with someone like me in mind, i.e. someone who is easily bored, who is often distracted by the multiple things swirling in his/her head, who is already thinking about the next meeting, and who is under pressure to meet deadlines.

There are different types of virtual meetings utilizing various technologies, and I can’t cover them all here.  Here are some general tips for making virtual meetings interactive:

  • Involve participants in creating the agenda; it helps create engagement
  • Create a team space where participants can share and review information (e.g. status updates) before the meeting; this allows meeting time to be used for discussion and decision making
  • Have participants check into the meeting with a very short statement about what they want from the meeting
  • Limit the meeting time to an hour; if an hour isn’t enough take regular breaks going forward
  • Have a slide of a conference table with pictures of the participants in different places
  • Invite participants to interact throughout the meeting, not just in ‘question time’ at the end
  • Call upon people by name to give their views
  • Keep the meeting momentum going; don’t spend too much time on one slide
  • You might want to double your typical slide count to keep the meeting moving forward
  • Keep text on slides to a minimum; when people have to read a lot it’s hard to maintain energy
  • Use all of the virtual tools you have available:
        • Online breakout rooms for small group discussions and brainstorming
        • Chat for participants to ask questions, make comments, and propose ideas
        • Polls/questionnaires for surveying how participants feel about issues and ideas
        • Whiteboards for exploring ideas and action planning
  • Ask all participants at the end if they got what they wanted from the meeting

Virtual Meeting Support

Have you considered forming a meeting team to support your virtual events in running smoothly?

  • Leader: Person who sets the goal(s) for the meeting and designs for interactivity
  • Producer: Takes care of technical issues
  • Facilitator: Supports the leader in designing for interactivity, and keeps the meeting on track and on time

If meeting leaders follow this golden rule they might stand a chance with people like me.

For help and guidance on training your people in virtual meetings contact us the Virtual Gurus team today. 

Author: Terry Brake

Terry has designed, developed, and delivered 100s of training programs for Fortune 1000 companies in many areas: global teamwork, global leadership, global cultural diversity, and general management skills. Many of these programs were delivered in traditional classrooms, but increasingly they are in virtual classrooms. To find out more click here.

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