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Planning Your Virtual Team Meeting

For the second quarter of 2019, our Tip of the Month series focus on everyone’s favorite topic, managing virtual meetings. Partners in Development’s Long-Distance Leadership ModelTMprovides a framework for conducting these meetings using best practices.

Research shows that a for a typical in-person team meeting, a common practice is to allocate 10 percent of the time to the planning of that meeting. Another 10 percent for follow-up, and 80 percent of the total time spent in the actual meeting.

Virtual team meetings require a different set of skills and practices. Virtual team members and leaders both must learn to collaborate differently when working from different rooms. 

In the context of virtual meetings, this means the time allocation must adapt to the virtual environment. In this quarter’s Tip of the Month series, we look closely at the virtual team’s optimal meeting structure, one of Partners in Development’s key virtual team resources.

The first element of meetings that must adapt is the preparation time. A best practice is to dedicate, 50 percentof the time for the meeting preparation. This includes creating agendas with expected outcomes, preparing technology to be used during the meeting, and providing participants advance information to focus the conversations during the meeting. The proactive preparation reduces the time spent in the actual meeting, and ensures members have clear understanding of the intent and commitment required to achieve the meeting’s outcomes.

In the virtual work environment, aligning team members behind the team’s purpose and vision requires more structure and attention. With meetings, this translates to a 1:1 ratio between the planning time and the other elements. Look for more virtual meeting tips in the upcoming Tip of the Months.

Here’s a Tip:

Here are some tips to help you plan more effective virtual team meetings.

Draft the meeting agenda—including the meeting purpose, topics, expected outcomes (decision, action, FYI), who needs to attend, and estimated time for each topic. Include 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each meeting for socializing. This builds rapport.

Determine the technology methods that best match the messages to be communicated. Confirm that participants have the required technology and bandwidth needed.

Leverage technology engagement tools—group chat, polls, screen sharing, etc.

Ensure that all participants know how to use the required technology.

Determine meeting length and time of day. Consider the time zones of all participants. Limit meetings to 60-90 minutes; if longer, plan a break.

Send out agenda and meeting materials in advance. Expect participants to have read the materials prior to the meeting and are prepared to engage.

Upload presentation materials in advance and test the technology. Have a backup plan.

Challenge of the Month

Try some of these tips to make your virtual team meetings more effective. Let us know what a difference they make and any other techniques you try. We’ll share them with other readers.

Partners in Development are experts in navigating the virtual teams work environment. If you’d like to obtain more actionable items and resources to implement with yourteam, please visit VirtualTeamResources.com.

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