Online meetings can be a challenge at times, in part because it can be difficult to gauge someone’s body language to help facilitate engagement. To overcome that barrier, other aspects of communication must be further emphasized by all parties. In this segment of the Online Meeting Series, GPetrium will look at how to ensure the success of an e-meeting while it is taking place. This is part 2 out of a 3-part series in ‘Ensuring E-meetings Success’ guide (Refer to part 1 & 3). Below you will find key items that participants and meeting organizers should do to ensure a successful remote meeting.
“The most valuable resource is time since it is always fleeting and we can’t take it back” – GP. An individual that continues to show up late for a meeting, will at times be perceived by others as someone who disregards and disrespects one of their most valuable resources, time. Unless there are unforeseeable circumstances, every attendee should ensure that they are always on time. A person that seems to be late most of the time is likely not taking precautions to ensure that they can get to the online meeting on time. If an individual is likely to be late (e.g. meeting overrun), s/he should take precautions by sending a quick ping via telecom app (e.g. Skype) or other methods to let one of the meeting leads know that s/he will be late whenever possible.
Participants are usually more comfortable and engaged when they know each other. In small, first time meetings (3-7 individuals), it can be beneficial to ensure that everyone gives or is given a quick introduction at the start of the online meeting. The introduction must tie individual relevance to the meeting or project by considering the following:
Throughout future online meetings, if new participants are added, they should be allowed to introduce and to get introduced to the rest of the group. A 10-team member introduction can last 1-2 minutes and positively impact the meeting and future interactions. In large group settings, this is often not viable due to the structure of such meetings.
Regardless of a person’s position in the meeting, always be attentive. Questions may arise where an inattentive individual may have to answer. Clumsiness and a request to repeat the question can make a person look unprepared.
To increase engagement during online meetings, company’s such as Amazon tend to use structured memos to enhance the quality of meetings. This can be perceived as an organization’s competitive advantage when it becomes a part of the culture.
Being attentive can also allow a person to add valuable perspectives to the meeting, enhancing the quality of conversation and the individual’s brand value. Be sure to not comment without thinking about the circumstances. Unnecessary feedback can have a negative connotation and potentially cause the meeting to drag.
“Be where you are, when you are there” – Unknown.
Teams should look to have a minute taker in most meeting structures. It does not mean that the person will be writing long summaries about the meeting, however, having key items to review, especially action items that have come out of the meeting can be a powerful tool for business productivity. The meeting minutes can then be sent to relevant parties, including folks that were not part of the meeting. It ensures that everyone is on the same page about the key aspects of the meeting and everyone’s responsibilities. Utilizing a storage solution such as SharePoint or Google Drive can be useful in keeping the storage of all the meeting minutes, so folks can go back to them in the future if needed.
Businesses are often more productive when the audience is engaged. To ensure an online meeting is engaging, ask the audience to participate, look for ways to add Q&A to a meeting, be respectful regardless of the comment raised. If the comment looks silly, give the person the benefit of the doubt at first and if needed, raise the issue on the side, there is no need to be disrespectful 99.99% of the time.
Work towards completing the meeting on time. Whenever possible, if it looks like the team needs more time to finalize decisions, ensure that key stakeholders have the availability to continue the meeting, otherwise finalize it with what is at hand and continue at another time. If meetings seem to always be going over the allotted time, make sure to change the time to decrease meeting overruns.
Companies should look into creating a culture where meetings should not need to take 30 minutes just because it was set for 30 minutes. An early finish to a meeting can save people time and also be a good opportunity to network and resolve other potential issues that members may be interested in covering. In other words, do not drag a meeting unnecessarily.
Actionable items can be created before the meeting, however, there are plenty of cases where actionable items are found and created throughout the meeting due to new outcomes and information derived from the meeting. In such cases, be sure to use the notetaker’s material to reiterate the action items and outcomes of the meeting to the team and relevant stakeholders. This is a valuable tool to ensure the team is on track.
In case you need a hand organizing your action items after a meeting, check out our Free Action Items List tracker.
A moderator or someone who can facilitate the meeting (such as a Scrum Master) can be a great enabler of the meeting’s success. They can serve to facilitate the meeting by acting as a motivator, facilitator, coach, teacher, support system among many other areas. They can, for example, navigate the team through an out-of-scope conversation and/or decide that it makes sense to be out-of-scope because it is adding value to the team and business success. They may help de-escalate heated arguments or serve to ease the hierarchical difficulties that exist. A moderator/SM should be essential to most, if not all meetings. The best part is that everyone can learn the steps to moderate and use it to maximize the team’s goals, therefore there is no requirement to hire someone just to do that, although it is worth noting that receiving some coaching from a professional Moderator or SM can greatly enhance your team’s capability.