Virtual meetings are laden with problems. Incorrect or missing call-in numbers, strange echoes, and the occasional choppy connection delay and interrupt what is already a difficult situation. But even without technological issues, virtual meetings have all the typical challenges of in-person meetings and more. So how do we make virtual meetings engaging and productive?
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- Virtual meetings feel less important than in-person meetings, so we treat them with less respect.
- It’s easy to hide during a virtual meeting which enables multi-tasking, coming unprepared and not being noticed, and/or avoiding participating in general.
- For teams that are not generally co-located, virtual meetings may be mis-used for relationship building.
- To make virtual meetings more engaging and productive, treat them more like in-person meetings:
- (1) Have a desired outcome, agenda, and prework. Be more intentional in planning them and take them seriously even though they may feel informal.
- (2) Clarify your virtual meeting practices as a team. Consider norms for processes, technology, and participation so everyone is aligned and expectations are shared.
- (3) Use technology to drive focus and engagement. Use video over audio. Use Trello to mimic sticky-note brainstorming. Use Zoom breakout rooms to mimic small group discussions, etc.
- (4) Use a chat tool to build relationships between meetings. Create ‘water cooler’ channels so people have a place to talk about interests outside of work instead of using meeting time to connect.