Hi Friends,

We have had a challenging 2 weeks and now most of us are figuring out how to manage our remote reports and work groups. Your work force no longer sits just outside the office door, in arms reach. Before the virus scare you could stop by people’s desks or call a meeting of individuals into your office or gather in a conference room face to face. It was easy to schedule and conduct regularly held weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings. Now, we are not sure when or how or how often to meet.

If you are a CEO, president, manager, or team leader, concerned about keeping in touch with your people, you are in the right place. If you want to continue to engage your reports, have your teams connect and collaborate, then these 5 tips for making sure your team meetings are effective and engaging in our new virtual environment can help. You can also listen to my explanation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwOwYdCni08&t=6s

Tip #1

Use tech everyone has access to and ability to work. Train people if necessary and have everyone test the tech of choice. Get your team on the same platform and using the same tools for sharing. For example, if you want everyone to attend meetings on the zoom platform, make sure everyone knows how to access the meeting and that everyone has sound and camera capabilities. There is nothing worse than conducting a meeting and finding out that someone’s computer audio is trash – I have seen bad sound completely derail a meeting. Pick a tool and try it out until you can find the best for your group. Remember, have everyone test the chosen tools before the meeting so that when it starts, everyone is present and fully prepared.

Tip # 2

Virtual meetings take more than agenda planning. Here are some elements to consider.

  • Some meetings are best with established roles like facilitator, note taker, and timekeeper.
  • When you create an agenda, think about flow and pace, and that it fits in to your start and end time.
  • Be ready for technical snafus and meet them with grace.
  • Wear headphones so people can hear you.
  • Check for a strong internet and Shut other applications for computer efficiency.
  • Check your lighting (don’t sit in front of a bright window or you will look like a silhouette).
  • Check presentation materials and have copies of slides ready to send out.
  • And finally, send materials like the agenda and reports to participants ahead of time to give them enough time to review.

Tip #3

Create Virtual Meeting Norms. These are like rules of engagement for the virtual space. Here are a few examples:

  1. Do not multitask during the meeting
  2. Find a quiet space
  3. Use the mute button to prevent background noise
  4. Speak up when you have something to say
  5. Turn your video on whenever possible. (I say even require it!)

Have members of the meeting add to this list so they are co-creating and owning it. It is essential to reinforce positive behaviors which improve the experience for everyone involved.

Tip #4

Use facilitation techniques for virtual participation like:

  • Have a Calling order
  • Use collaboration techniques for generating ideas like brainstorming
  • Voting & Feedback
  • Break into small groups for discussions

The good news is that much of this can be handled by tools:

  • For virtual meetings there is zoom, Google Hangouts, facetime, Gotomeeting, slack, and readytalk
  • For Brainstorming and other collaboration techniques where we used to sticky notes and flip charts and now can use tools like Stormboarding.com and Mural.co
  • For feedback like voting or gathering information I’ve been playing with mentimeter.com (aggregates responses and develops interactive presentations).

Tip #5 – my favorite

Always do a virtual icebreaker or check-in at the beginning of your meeting. Great training always starts with a way to allow people to get to know each other, share, build trust, and build a positive, topic-oriented atmosphere. If you have spent time and focus building a culture of cohesion and positive engagement, don’t let this crisis completely undo your efforts. Use check ins and/or icebreakers at the start of every meeting to not let your culture slip.

A check in can be as simple as everyone giving a word that describes how they are feeling. Try sharing something funny they have too much of in the cabinets or something they are able to do now that they have not done on a long time. Check ins are especially important right now – people are nervous and dealing with a lot, and this is a fun relief.

Any ice breaker you would do in person, you can do virtually. Get creative and create a word cloud or have them share pictures. Have people bring Tik Tok videos and the best one can win a prize!

Remember these 5 tips to make your meetings effective, more productive, and better for your participants.

  1. Use tech everyone can handle
  2. Consider more than just the agenda
  3. Create Virtual Meeting norms
  4. Conduct your meeting with facilitation techniques
  5. Always start your meetings with a virtual ice breaker or check in

If you would like more support around virtual meeting skills and facilitation techniques, or would like to discuss how I can help your team, please contact me at marcy@engagingplay.com.

Stay safe and well and know we are still connected!

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