As a leader, there is an increasing need for developing your ability to facilitate virtual meetings. We have virtual teams, travel, and a mobile workforce unlike any time in our history. There are, of course, special challenges that come with leading a virtual meeting:
- People can feel disconnected from others in the group.
- The feeling of disconnection can make reporting a one-way sharing of information versus collaboration, alignment or consensus.
- It’s easier for participants to disengage and sit quietly.
- While minutes are usually sent out afterwards, there is no “parking lot” or flip chart tracking the meeting visually for participants.
- It’s easy for people to “walk out” of a virtual meeting without being detected.
- If information is not sent out ahead of time, it is difficult to distribute during a meeting.
At the core of all these challenges is the fact that engaging participants becomes even more vital when meeting virtually, more so than in face-to-face meetings. The most important guideline you can follow for virtual meetings is to only include those things in a meeting that require real time interaction from participants. Use virtual meetings to develop relationships, discuss problems, jointly search for solutions, make decisions, clarify work assignments, strategize and forward action plans.
- Do not use calls for reporting in! This can be done on a shared site or through written reporting.
- Don’t use calls for notices, reading reports or routine updates.
- Do have clear meeting agreements, such as:
- Attack issues, not people
- Manage the time allotted
- Listen and contribute
- Respect opposing opinions
- This means the meeting facilitator will need to send out notices, updates and reports prior to the call. Give people everything they need to prepare for a lively and engaging meeting.
- Create thoughtful agendas that tell people what will be discussed and the objective of the meeting, giving them everything they need to prepare in advance.
- In addition to preparing participants for the meeting well in advance, how you start and end the meeting matters. Frame discussions with the purpose and complete meetings with a succinct wrap up.
- Do a roll call and invite participants to share what they want from the meeting. This goes a long way towards creating engagement.
About Alicia Marie
Alicia Marie, Founder and Managing Director of People Biz, Inc., has become a national leader in the field of leadership development. She founded People Biz, Inc. in 2000 with the intention of providing total personal and professional development solutions for individuals, teams and organizations. She specializes in creating customized programs based on desired outcomes that include learning vehicles such as training, professional coaching and consulting.
People Biz, Inc. is a leadership development organization that focuses on transformational leadership initiatives for individuals, teams and organizations. Their award winning leadership program “Leading Change” uses the fundamental principles of Transformational Leadership to not just talk about leadership, but to develop powerful leaders.