Getting the Most out of Virtual Meetings
Is working virtually getting a little old? You are not alone. It’s safe to say that we didn’t expect to be suddenly pushed into a fully remote work—and for many, school—environment, yet here we are almost a full year later.
Perhaps the daily Zoom meetings and webcam calls are getting to feel a bit much. We get it. As a company we really tried to pan back and look at best practices so we could provide helpful tools to increase engagement and productivity during meetings. Guessing more than a few of us have sat through a meeting that could have been an email. At Versado we believe it is important to provide clarity of purpose, roles, agenda, and desired outcomes to maximize each person’s time and input, especially in the current environment where many of us are jumping from meeting to meeting. Here is what works best for us to get the most out of daily virtual meetings.
1. Determine Meeting Type
Meetings can be more than one type, but here are some common types of group meetings to help you determine your focus and purpose as you prepare for and attend meetings.
- Status update
- Team building
- Idea sharing
2. Determine Meeting Roles
It is much easier to show up prepared when you know what your role is going to be in a meeting. Make these roles clear in the meeting invitation when appropriate. Note any situations where someone attending will need to present something or prepare in advance.
DRIVER: schedules, facilitates, provides follow-up accountability (driver can optionally delegate some of these tasks with clear instructions)
PRESENTER: anyone presenting on call; may or may not include the driver, but should be made aware of their responsibilities by the driver in advance of the call
PARTICIPANT: actively participates in call (eg, takes notes, asks questions, contributes to discussion)
The DRIVER Role
When scheduling the meeting, consider whether you want to add in time for personal connection and latecomers. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks, but be sure to provide clear instructions and confirm understanding. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and plan your meeting in a way that capitalizes on your strengths and leverages your teammates for areas where you might be weak. Determine the purpose and objectives, and make these clear in advance. Use your emotional intelligence to determine when a parking lot list or a pivot is needed. Leverage your tone to engage and create a safe space for sharing (if the meeting type calls for sharing). Actively listen, ask questions to dig deeper, and allow wait time for responses. Listening is just as important as talking for the driver. Consider ways to get those involved who don’t often speak up, but prepare them if possible. Remember your visual participants, and consider showing something on-screen, even if it’s notes being taken (by you or designated notetaker).
The PRESENTER Role
Don’t use meeting time to prepare; be an active listener when not presenting. Block time on your calendar to prepare ahead of time to ensure you show up ready to go. Preparation (ie, planning, practicing) enables you to respect the time allotted, or ask for more. Without planning or practicing, it can be hard to estimate the time needed.
The PARTICIPANT Role
If you aren’t clear on why you were invited or what the driver would like you to offer (eg, advice, ideas, guardrails, solutions), clarify ahead of time so that you can contribute in a meaningful way. A quick email or phone call to ask strategic questions will provide the answers needed to prepare for being an active participant. You may even learn that your presence isn’t necessary at the meeting.
3. Host and Attend a Purposeful Meeting
Knowing your role in any meeting and preparing for that role will ensure the most efficient and productive meeting possible. Keep in mind that a proper meeting conclusion is also critical to its success. Before the meeting ends, ensure that any action items and next steps are clear—this goes for all meeting roles. Set deadlines, check schedules for follow-up meetings, determine materials that need to be sent, and tie up any other loose ends. Now go get the most out of all of your meetings!