6 Tips For Better Virtual Meetings
Zoom fatigue is real, but since meetings are essential to moving work forward in a meaningful way. Here are six tips for better virtual meetings.
Raise your hand if you spend at least half of your day on Zoom calls…
Zoom fatigue is real, but since meetings are essential to moving work forward in a meaningful way, you can’t totally avoid them.
If you’re spending so much time staring at your computer screen participating in virtual meetings, you might as well make the meetings as enjoyable and productive as possible!
And it is possible to have fun, engaging and efficient virtual meetings. They just take a bit of intentional planning. Here are six tips for better virtual meetings:
1. Define a clear purpose for your meeting
Whether you’re in person or virtual, this is always the #1 most important step to planning an effective meeting! If you can’t answer what is the purpose of this meeting?, don’t have one. Send an email or have a quick phone call instead.
2. Set norms for participation
During virtual meetings, it can be harder to pick up on small communication cues that help conversation flow smoothly. In order to limit awkward silences, unwanted interruptions, or the same two people dominating the conversation, set clear expectations for how everyone should participate. This can look different for different parts of the meeting.
- Is there a designated order for participation?
- Should everyone jump in popcorn style?
- Will people be called on by the meeting facilitator?
- Should people share feedback or ask questions in the chat box?
- How are you utilizing break out rooms for smaller groups of people to engage?
- How will you embrace purposeful moments of silence?
- Do cameras need to be on the entire time?
3. Share relevant information in advance
How many times have you been in a meeting where everyone spends 15 minutes “pulling up” the proper documents or spending the time allocated for giving feedback on a design actually looking at the design for the first time?
Sigh. You can do better. Your time is limited and now that you’re spending so much of it in virtual meetings, don’t waste it.
Things to send in advance of virtual meetings:
- Any documents participants should review/ be familiar with
- Questions people should be prepared to answer or submit responses to in advance
- Requests for feedback
- Introductions/ Bios
4. Use an Agenda
This is probably the most popular “meeting tip” out there, but agendas are so often misused. For example, like when the meeting facilitator is the only person with the agenda. Or the topics discussed do not follow the agenda. These are easy ways to get people to dread your meetings.
To maximize the effectiveness of your meeting agenda:
- Whenever possible, send your agenda 24 hours in advance.
- Be realistic about how many topics you can cover in one meeting.
- Attach the agenda to the meeting invite so attendees can easily reference it.
- Make sure the agenda is accessible to all participants before, during and after the meeting.
5. Make time for personal connection
Since there are no more chats at the water cooler before meetings (is that what we’re still calling it?), make time for casual conversation at the beginning of meetings.
Instead of jumping immediately into the first agenda item, build 5-10 minutes into the meeting for everyone to catch up, chat about their kids, what they’re watching on Netflix or how they’re generally surviving the pandemic. We are not living in normal times and it is important to give people the space to share honestly and connect as if they were in person.
6. Establish a post-meeting protocol
What happens after the meeting is almost as important as what happens before and during the meeting. We’ve all left meetings feeling more confused than when we walked (or Zoom-ed) in. How you follow up is critical to maximizing efficiency and building trust.
Your post-meeting protocol should include:
- A meeting evaluation. This can take place during the last 5 minutes of the meeting.
- A clear and easy system to review the status participants’ next steps (both their own and each other’s). People want to know what actions were taken and what changes were made as a result of the meeting.
- An accessible place for all participants to access meeting notes.
It is possible to come away from virtual meetings feeling connected and energized. Creating that experience for your team starts with intentional planning. Start with implementing these six tips and let me know how it goes!
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