by Luke Doyle
The ability to run effective meetings has always been a useful tool in any manager’s skillset, because if they are allowed to overrun or end without producing actionable objectives, valuable time that is wasted. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a new skill has been required of managers without any specific training: The ability to run virtual meetings as effectively as those that take place in person.
With managers and their staff isolated from each other while working from home, getting used to software they may have rarely used before, as well as interruptions from pets, children and other distractions, it would be understandable if standards slipped. Now is the time to refocus and learn useful tips to ensure that virtual meetings are as effective and productive as they can be, so here are some lessons from a new guide created by Business Financing:
#1: Be smart when scheduling the meeting
Virtual meetings have been used for some time now to bring in colleagues from other offices in different parts of the country or even other countries. It’s crucial when running an international virtual meeting that you’re scheduling it at a time that works for as many people as possible. Doing the time zone math means avoiding meetings at inconvenient times for people in other zones and there are tools to help you do this, such as EveryTimeZone, Calendly and Google’s Boomerang.
#2: Let people prepare for the meeting
You should also ensure you are giving people at least two days’ notice before the meeting to give them a better chance of being able to attend, as well as prepare for it. It is also good practice to create your agenda before sending out invitations as this will give you a better idea of who actually needs to attend, thus avoiding having people in the meeting with little to contribute.
#3: Create an agenda that works
Having an agenda is just as important for virtual meetings as physical ones, if not more so because of the potential for distractions people have while working from home. Start with a check in to engage people and bring focus to the start of the meeting, before reviewing previous actions, discussing obstacles and potential solutions and finally agreeing new actions and next steps.
#4: Set the tone with an opening slide
When people are signing in to a meeting and waiting for others to join, instead of awkward silences or chat, share your screen and put up a slide detailing how you want the meeting to run. For example, you could ask people to:
- Keep their video on
- Mute their sound when not speaking
- Use the chat panel
- Use the raise your hand function to ask a question
#5: Use the MVP rule to maintain face time
Face to face contact in virtual meetings is crucial for building relationships and trust, but this can be lost if the meeting is dominated by endless Power Point presentations on screen shares, pushing faces to the bottom of the screen. Structure the meeting to minimise presentations and ask people to use the 10/20/30 rule, keeping them to 10 slides, 20 minutes (at most) and 30 font size.
#6: Follow up effectively
After a virtual meeting has ended, it’s essential to send a follow up email summarizing the actions, responsibilities and covering any key updates for people who weren’t able to attend. Send this as soon as possible after people have signed off, before they get distracted by other tasks and meetings, to maintain the momentum created during the meeting.
Do you have tips on how to run great virtual meetings? Share them in the comments below or send an email with your thoughts.