Virtual Meetings

May 7, 2012

Good Monday morning!  Wet cool day here in southwest Michigan.

How are you doing with your virtual meetings?  With staff in more than eleven states and two provinces in Canada, we are having to learn how to handle these meetings.  With today’s technology, you can have highly effective meetings with a distributed staff.  However, there are a few things to remember:

First, go ahead and pay for a good online meeting service.  Many people I deal with like GoToMeeting and it is my favorite.  Others use WebEx.  Also, with Skype and even a “hangout” on Google+ makes a virtual meeting easier now.

Keith Ferrazzi, in a blog post on the Harvard Business Review site, recommends following five guidelines to make virtual meetings more effective:

1. Do use video.  It is much more effective than the standard teleconference as you are able to see people and read their reactions and actually causes them to pay more attention as others can see them if they are “multi-tasking”.

2. Do a “Take 5” at the beginning of the call for people to update each other personally and to break the ice before beginning the meeting. It really enhances the connection.

3. Assign different people different roles for the meeting from note taker to white board manager.  It keeps people involved and focused during the meeting.

4. Forbid the use of the mute button unless someone is in a noisy environment.  Otherwise the dead space after a comment or humorous statement really kills spontaneous discussion.

5, Penalize multi-taskers.  First of all there is truly no such thing as multi-tasking.  It is actually divided attention and counter productive.  Don’t allow it in your virtual meetings as you lose the full attention of the person involved and is disrespectful of others in the meeting.

Those are just five suggestions to help and there are more.  The point is that virtual meetings are a powerful tool done rightly and we need to learn how to conduct a good virtual meeting in order to be good stewards of people’s’ time.

Have a great week,
BG