With as many as 56 million meetings being conducted each day, it is important to make sure they are productive. Unproductive meetings are a big-time waster costing the US economy over $70 billion per year. Remote meetings add a layer of complexity to keeping the meeting productive. Remote meeting productivity often hinges on the engagement of participants during the meeting. In the previous two blogs “Remote Meeting Engagement: Pre-Meeting Strategies” and “Remote Meeting Engagement: Meeting Etiquette” we discussed how to start creating a more effective environment for meetings to engage participants and move productivity forward. This blog will focus on strategies to lead your remote meetings.
As the leader of the meeting, you can set the tone for a productive exchange of ideas. It is your responsibility to make sure the meeting accomplishes its purpose. With meeting participants attending from remote locations, and the inability to read their body language, it is more challenging to keep them engaged. Applying strategies to get them involved in the meeting will help keep people focused and productive during remote meetings.
Here are seven meeting leadership strategies to consider:
- Open with the purpose or key issue and agenda for the meeting along with the time frame. Set a clear expectation of the goal of the meeting and how long the meeting will be right up front, so everyone is aligned.
- Assign someone to take notes and someone else to keep the meeting moving and on track. Not everyone may be presenting during the meeting, so giving jobs to different people helps to keep them engaged and the virtual meeting on track. Have someone take the minutes for the meeting so it can be summarized at the end and you have a record of what was discussed and agreed upon. Meeting minutes can be posted in a shared online folder so team members can go back and review them later if desired.
- Encourage an open casual environment with participation from everyone. “Phycological Safety” is when people do not fear retaliation or negative consequences if they give an opinion contrary to the accepted norm. While the agenda provides structure, all participants in the meeting should feel safe and free to express their input. This type of environment drives meeting/team productivity.
- Discuss only one issue at a time, avoid interrupting speakers, and practice good listening skills. Keeping virtual meetings on topic takes discipline. Make sure the person assigned to keep the meeting on track is keeping the participants on the issue at hand. Listen with the intent to understand other opinions and if possible, save comments for designated Q&A portions.
- Create a “parking lot” for topics that are important but should be discussed later or in a different format. Make sure to write down topics that need to be discussed at another time. This will allow participants to stay focused as well as the meeting to stay on topic and more productive.
- Ask questions and express your ideas last. Ask questions to understand other opinions. Some people may feel intimidated to express opinions contrary to the leader in the virtual room so give your opinion last after hearing everyone else’s perspectives.
- Summarize the discussion and assign an individual/team to ensure people are held accountable for action items. Have the person taking the minutes for the meeting summarize the key action items. Assign each action item to an individual or team if it has not already been done. Designate an individual or team that will follow up with each person to ensure they are meeting the commitments agreed upon in the meeting.
Implement the meeting leadership strategies listed above and you will have a more purpose-driven approach to your meetings. This approach will help you create a more engaging environment resulting in enhanced productivity during meetings.
Interested in learning more, join us for a complimentary 1-hour webinar, Leading Effective Virtual Meetings, on September 30 at 9:00 AM.