How To Run Virtual Meetings That Your Team Trusts Will Be Worthwhile

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How To Run Virtual Meetings That Your Team Trusts Will Be Worthwhile

By Kathryn P. Haydon


Meetings get a bad rap. For the most part, they should. Seventy-one percent of professionals report losing productivity each week due to unnecessary or cancelled meetings. Even in “necessary” meetings, 73 percent of people report to multi-tasking, i.e., not paying attention. 

So we’re already starting from a baseline of inefficient, ineffective meetings. To actually hold people’s attention effectively when they are surrounded by households of distraction behind the safety of screen is no easy task.

Virtual meetings done well take deliberate planning—but it can be quick planning. Here are four ways to ensure that your virtual meetings aren’t time-wasters. 

Four Ways to Ensure Your Virtual Meetings Don’t Waste Time

  1. Have a Hook.
    Even though pay your people to be there, it’s up to you to give them a reason to engage in a virtual meeting. The distractions vying for their attention on the other side of the screen and mute button are ever-present and irresistible.

    To hook your meeting-goers, use humor, an intriguing challenge question, and a clear goal. To learn more about how to do this, download our Instant Meeting Engagement workbook here

  2. Make a Clear Agenda and Stick To It.
    It’s easy to wile away time catching up or meandering on chatty tangents. Set a clear agenda upfront. Invite people with irrelevant questions or comments to note them in the chat box. Stick to your agenda meeting after meeting to build trust that when you call a meeting it will be purposeful and to the point.

  3. Use Online Tools to Drive Interaction.
    When people are actively contributing to a meeting through a real-time collaboration platform, you can capture more of their attention and best thinking. There are many such tools available. Zoom has an interactive tool bar that enables on-screen writing and markups. Break-out rooms facilitate small-group discussion. Google Docs and its suite of other file formats provide many possibilities for active collaboration. Microsoft Teams has similar features. Trello can help engage in virtual brainstorming or Kanban-style project management. 

  4. Know When to Zoom and When to Phone.
    Video is not always necessary for virtual meetings. If it’s a simple conversation or lecture-style meeting, people might prefer the flexibility to be off screen and walking around inside or outside. When they have a secondary activity like exercise that doesn’t require focused thought, they are more apt to attend to the meeting. However, if a topic is any bit controversial or could invite tension, visual facial cues on video can be a game-saver. 

Virtual meetings can be a drag like their in-person counterparts, or they can provide opportunities for effective collaboration, information dissemination, and interaction. Make yours effective with these four considerations. You’ll not only have meaningful meetings, but also you’ll build trust with your team. 

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Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.

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