The Golden Rule for Conducting a Virtual Meeting

| By TMA World


I confess. I have done the following in virtual meetings:

• Multitasked
• Been distracted
• Dozed off
• Taken the phone into the bathroom
• Taken the meeting off on a tangent
• Been too long-winded in making a point
• Tried to make an important point while on mute
• Have rarely looked into the webcam
• Not raised a question because I want to get off the call and get on with important work

These are not good practices, and I have tried to do better.  There are many lists of tips for successful meetings, but I think there is one golden rule:

Design virtual meetings for interactivity

What a virtual meeting leader must do is to design a meeting with someone like me in mind, i.e. someone who is easily bored, who is often distracted by the multiple things swirling in his/her head, who is already thinking about the next meeting, and who is under pressure to meet deadlines.

There are different types of virtual meetings utilizing various technologies, and I can’t cover them all here.  Here are some general tips for making virtual meetings interactive:

• Involve participants in creating the agenda; it helps create engagement
• Create a team space where participants can share and review information (e.g. status updates) before the meeting; this allows meeting time to be used for discussion and decision making
• Have participants check into the meeting with a very short statement about what they want from the meeting
• Limit the meeting time to an hour; if an hour isn’t enough take regular breaks going forward
• Have a slide of a conference table with pictures of the participants in different places
• Invite participants to interact throughout the meeting, not just in ‘question time’ at the end
• Call upon people by name to give their views
• Keep the meeting momentum going; don’t spend too much time on one slide
• You might want to double your typical slide count to keep the meeting moving forward
• Keep text on slides to a minimum; when people have to read a lot it’s hard to maintain energy
• Use all of the virtual tools you have available:
o Online breakout rooms for small group discussions and brainstorming
o Chat for participants to ask questions, make comments, and propose ideas
o Polls/questionnaires for surveying how participants feel about issues and ideas
o Whiteboards for exploring ideas and action planning
• Ask all participants at the end if they got what they wanted from the meeting

Think about forming a meeting team:

• Leader: Person who sets the goal(s) for the meeting and designs for interactivity
• Producer: Takes care of technical issues
• Facilitator: Supports the leader in designing for interactivity, and keeps the meeting on track and on time

If meeting leaders follow the golden rule they might stand a chance with people like me.

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