Tips for Top Virtual Meetings 1 - WHY?

I wrote previously that a major drain on energy and motivation when working remotely or from home are the endless, longwinded, less-than-productive virtual meetings. Not wishing to present a problem without some suggested solutions I have written a series of articles on Tips for Top Meetings extracted from the virtual workshops I have been running, to include planning, managing and achieving presence in the online world. Here’s the first:

To kick off: every meeting must have a clear purpose. Sounds obvious I know, but do you really know why you are having this meeting? Are you sure this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction or a habit? The purpose needs to be clear and importantly communicated to all in advance. Without a shared purpose it is hard to achieve focus and the meeting is much more likely to descend into circular discussions, pet grievances, or hobby horses.

Time spent planning saves time in the meeting. Clearly define the purpose and as part of that be specific about the desired outcome. Is the meeting to:

· Inform, advise, co-ordinate or monitor progress

· Solve problems, brainstorm ideas and solutions

· Make decisions with maximum buy-in and commitment from all parties

· Negotiate an agreement or contract

· Catch up! To bond and de-isolate

The last one is important in these current times, but it is a purpose in itself and I would suggest it should not be confused with the other purposes. Consider having separate catch up meetings for the team where you can inject a bit of levity and chit chat. I’d be interested to see some of your suggestions as to how you might do or have done this in the comments! DO consider, however, how long this should be: how long would people want to be involved in a catch up, how often?

Once you have a defined purpose you are better able to designate a timeframe for the meeting. I will post more on this later, but at this point be asking the question: how long will people want to devote to discussing this?

One more question to ask yourself as a check: would the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting be achieved by an executive decision, an email? If the answer is no… go ahead and arrange the meeting!

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