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Keeping your virtual meetings on track

8 Essential Virtual Meeting Questions

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virtua agenda
Virtual Agenda Sample, J Britton 2020

Conversations are the currency of business. It’s how we get things done and business results are achieved. There’s a fallacy in remote work that everything can be done by email or text. Voice-to-voice, human conversation is critical on a regular basis.

This article explores five common pitfalls with virtual meetings, and eight questions you want to be asking regularly to get the most out of your virtual meetings.

While meetings in general are often seen as being ineffective, here are five pitfalls, or challenges I shared in Teams365 blog post #211:

  1. Faux-pas #1: No agreements or baseline on how to meet. Many virtual facilitators are hesitant to create a structure and agreements around how to make the meeting most effective. Standard agreements like starting and ending the meeting on time, having an agenda, with timelines help to keep the meeting on track. Circulate these before by email so everyone is aware. Notice the impact of this in your next facilitation.

    2. Faux-pas #2 – No agenda. It’s important to maximize the time you have together in virtual meetings. Create an agenda, with timelines and circulate these in advance of the call so the final agenda can be created and circulated. That way adjustments are made BEFORE the meeting. The benefit of this is that you can see if a meeting is the best way to cover it.

    3. Faux-pas #3Trying to update those who dial in late. It can be very time consuming to stop and try to update those who may be calling in late. A better practice is to let people know about what will happen if you are late. Provide all callers with a few summary points as you go.

    4. Faux-pas #4. – a Loose Hand on Time. Virtual meetings can go awry when facilitators do not keep to time or ask the group where time should be spent. If facilitators are not comfortable managing the time, assign a time-keeper role to one of the participants.

    5. Faux-pas #5 Not coming to decisions. Before moving onto new items in the agenda, make sure you have come to a decision, or have assigned responsibility with clear next steps to someone in the group. If not, you run the risk of circular meetings with no firm takeaways. Make sure decisions are explicit and things are crystal clear. Once people disconnect, the opportunity to clarify is gone.

Meetings in the virtual space play a key role in keeping people informed, which is even more important when we can’t see each other “at the water cooler”.  Team members need to remain connected in the virtual space.

Taking some time to pre-plan your virtual meetings can go a long way. It can be useful to frame out your conversations with these essential meetings questions. Consider using these 8 essential virtual meeting questions I share in Effective Virtual Conversations:

  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? (versus what will be nice to cover or where can people go for more information around topics?)
  8. What follow up might be required?

(Excerpt: Effective Virtual Conversations, Britton, page 304,  2017)

What’s going to help you make your virtual meetings even more effective than your in-person ones?

Part of this article was originally published as https://www.plandotrack.com/blog/weekly-planning-hack-33-8-essential-meeting-questions and part as TEams365 blog post #2059 at https://www.potentialsrealized.com/teams-365-blog/teams365-2059-teamwork-foundations-virtual-meeting-pitfalls

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