#1 – Not prioritizing meetings.
Many times, virtual meetings are postponed because not everyone is going to be there. In fact, it may be more useful to start from the assumption that not everyone is going to be there, and people can catch up with a recording or the transcript. Regular team meetings and communication are important. They provide an important channel for sharing information, taking the pulse, and/or keeping the team connected.
#2 – Not putting everyone on the same platform.
One of the greatest challenges today is the blended meeting space, where you have some (or a bulk of people) calling in from one location, and others dialing in from separate locations. This can sometimes augment the disconnection across a team. Try putting all people on the virtual platform for a change and see what happens as you incorporate the different engagement strategies (see #5) and as you intentionally create dialogue and sharing across part of the team that may not normally be connected.
Putting everyone on the same platform is a great equalizer and if you are wanting to truly build a team, it means that common ground is needed.
#3 – Not having a plan – 8 Meeting Questions.
A lot of meetings in both the virtual and in-person space are poorly organized. Before kicking off any meeting, be sure to check out the 8 Meeting Questions I share in Effective Virtual Conversations:
In Effective Virtual Conversations, I shared 8 Essential Meeting Questions to ask at the start or end of any meeting. These include:
1. What’s the purpose?
2. What takeaways do we want?
3. Who needs to be on the call?
4. What preparation is needed for us to be most effective in the meeting?
5. What pace to do we want in order to keep it engaging?
6. What will help keep the focus?
7. What’s absolutely essential? (What’s essential, versus what will be nice to cover? If you can’t cover it, where can people go for more information around topics?)
8. What follow up might be required?
(Reference: Jennifer Britton, Effective Virtual Conversations, pp 304, 2017)
#4 - Speaking at, rather than speaking with, the group.
It’s easy for people to slip into the trap of "speaking at” rather than “speaking with” virtual groups. The use of process is key for engagement, and it’s important that you let your group/team know about what they can expect in terms of input and interaction. Follow through with this and learn to be comfortable with “silence” and also handing the reins over to others.
Instead of opening the floor up to dead silence, let people know that you are first going to call on everyone in the team in a certain order – i.e. First name (forwards, backwards), East to West or West to East, Job Role, length of time with the organization...
Process creates clarity and it also creates safety.
#5 – Not using or underutilizing the tools available.
From recording the calls so you don’t have to spend weeks typing up the meeting notes, to using the different engagement functions virtual meetings CAN be interactive. Depending on what the purpose of the meeting is, consider how you might use:
- Polls – for voting or pulse check across the team
- Chat – To capture ideas, brainstorming, comments, and/or team agreements. Depending on the platform you use, you may be able to save the chat easily with your recording. This text file can then get sent to everyone.
- Use annotation to have people share their thoughts – agreements, priorities, what their strengths are. Annotation allows people to highlight and circle items on the screen
- Breakouts – probably one of the favorite transformers I see, breakouts allow people to move into their own private meeting space and have a smaller discussion. This can be invaluable if you are wanting to get the team’s input on things or boost motivation for change. If we are always feeling like we are TALKED at, rather than part of the conversation, it’s hard to have a good meeting.
As you go to organize your next meeting, what pitfalls do you want to keep an eye on? What changes do you want to make?
Leadership | Teamwork | Business Success
Author of multiple books including Effective Virtual Conversations (2017), PlanDoTrack (2019) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013)
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