Whereas the majority of face-to-face meeting time is often spent in the actual meeting, best practice for managing virtual meetings requires at least 50% of time on planning and outlining the meeting structure. Why is this the case?
Our roles as facilitators and meeting leaders requires getting everything and everybody prepared ahead of time so that the short time that we can get our incredibly busy team members together can be efficient, productive and engaging. This may involve developing new behaviors among your meeting participants who may be used to just showing up at the appointed time, giving their (often divided) attention for the duration of a meeting and then moving on to their next meeting.
Here’s how to prepare for an engaging virtual meeting:
Step 1 – Set an agenda. Virtual meetings should follow an agenda just like other normal meeting. The organizer of the meeting should inform the participants the agenda of meeting in advance via email. The agenda should include the names of everyone who will be participating on the call, the time of the meeting with respect to multiple time zones, the duration of the meeting, any phone/conference IDs/login information required for the meeting and the time allotted to discuss each agenda item.
Step 2 – Allow for brief introductions of all participants taking part in the meeting. The introduction should be done at the beginning of the meeting. The best approach is to conduct a roll call to confirm that all attendees are ready. Also, be sure to ask everyone in the meeting not only to mention their names, but their position in the organization and what that position entails. This will make it easier to align members with each other when it is time to collaborate on a project.
Step 3 – Take the group’s temperature often. As facilitators, we need to be creative in finding new ways to check in with participants and determine their level of engagement, interest and participation. We need to be careful not to dominate the meeting and regularly seek input and feedback from participants. By removing our own visual distractions while on a virtual conference, we can pay attention to the group dynamic. The cues are there if we are asking and listening.
What additional steps do you take to prepare for a virtual meeting?