In a recent survey we conducted, 73% of respondents said they participated in mostly virtual or a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings. And over 50% were disappointed that participants came to the meetings unprepared. For most companies, virtual meetings are integral to doing business. When run well, they can foster collaboration and increase engagement while building trust and morale among teams. When run poorly, they can result In wasted time, frustration and lackluster outcomes.
We’ve compiled several time-tested tips to help you run virtual meetings that will deliver results.
Here are our top 5:
Trust the wisdom of the group. Remember, your group collectively knows more than any individual (including you). Listen to the various perspectives to draw out wisdom. Make everyone feel connected and engaged. People perform better when they are comfortable with each other, which promotes a greater degree of openness and candor. According to the Harvard Business Review, a collaborative problem solving session replaces the standard “report-outs” that can weigh meetings down. When the meeting leader raises a topic for group discussion and the team works together around a common goal, the power of the collective intelligence can be tapped for fresh ideas and valuable perspectives in response to business challenges.
Get specific. You know the saying ‘garbage in, garbage out’. The same is true with your meetings. Vague agendas promote unfocused discussions, especially in virtual meeting environments where focus and engagement are critical to meeting success. Plan ahead and be specific about what you want to accomplish in a meeting. Send out pre-reads in addition to your agenda and ask for feedback BEFORE the meeting; you’ll have your discussion points ready and your team can show up prepared. According to Nancy M. Settle-Murphy in her book Leading Effective Virtual Teams, “This type of pre-work prepares participants to take full advantage of the meeting by thinking ahead about the content, formulating ideas or getting to know others in the group, which can help keep team members engaged.”
Design the conversation in advance of the meeting. An agenda alone is not enough to ensure meaningful outcomes. Visualize the results you want ahead of time and then create a meeting structure using questions that will guide and focus the conversation. Being clear on the answers you need will help you structure the right questions and keep everyone actively participating.
Unmute the conversation. Nothing kills virtual meeting engagement faster than when people go on mute and/or turn off their video feed. They’ve checked out. There are a multitude of distractions — responding to emails, looking at their phones, and checking social media. You would never stand for this in a face-to-face meeting, so don’t stand for it in a virtual meeting. Using video promotes a sense of being in the same room and allows everyone to see facial expressions so they feel more engaged.
Draw Conclusions. Nothing makes meeting participants feel more frustrated than lack of conclusions and clear, actionable outcomes. 39% of our survey participants told us this was the most frustrating thing about attending meetings. They are left feeling that their time was wasted which erodes morale and stifles creativity. Be sure to conclude your meetings with clear directives and next steps.
Trust, vision, pre-planning, engagement, and actionable outcomes are our five top ingredients for running successful virtual meetings. And to help you manage all this is GoWall, the ideal virtual meeting companion. GoWall can be used with any video conferencing platform to engage participants and enhance the virtual meeting experience. Customers tell us it’s easy to use, enables everyone to contribute and have an equal voice, and promotes idea flow with its unique ‘notes-on-a-wall’ technology. Best of all, ideas captured can be exported and distributed instantly. If you’re interested in a 30-day free trial, we’d be delighted to show you how to transform your virtual meetings into actual successes.
Tell us about your meeting experiences. We’re collecting data for our Meeting Experience Survey and we really value your input. It’ll take less than a minute and you’ll be invited to download Meeting Conversations That Accelerate Decisions and Action — 3 meeting design templates to help you get the most value from your meetings. You’ll also have a chance to request our survey results. Click here.