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It has been nearly 12 months since the start of the Coronavirus. In this time, we have had to adopt online meetings to collaborate with our teams and communicate with our customers. The “new normal” has been replaced with “the office is dead” and so the unhelpful predictions will continue. There are multiple challenges in successfully transferring communications to online meetings tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Want to learn more about Microsoft Teams? Check our articles: Is Teams the Answer to your Remote Working Requirements? or Our Guide to the perfect Microsoft Teams Deployment
There are, however, some tips that we have gained through the use of our EOS (Enterprise Operational System) Traction Meeting disciplines that translate very well to online meetings. It all boils down to preparation and the setting of rules and expectations. Our team have multiple online meetings per week, covering both internal and client communications. We are happy to share our learnings, improvements and best practices with you here.
Here are 10 steps you can take to make your meetings shorter and more productive:
Make sure you have the bandwidth capacity for online meetings. Nothing kills momentum at the start of a session like a 15-minute delay because people need to download software, can’t get the video to work, etc. Prior to a virtual meeting, all participants should test the technology and make sure they are comfortable with the main features.
To make people feel like they’re all at the “same” meeting, use your camera. We are continually amazed by how many people turn off their cameras in a Video meeting. In a nutshell, be present or get off the call.
During the session, use an agenda, set meeting ground rules, take breaks every 45 minutes (if running into hours), and clearly outline next steps (including timing and accountabilities) after each section and at the end of the meeting.
Meetings should be discussions. Background information should be provided beforehand using a collaboration tool such as Microsoft SharePoint. If someone needs to present, use screen sharing to guide the conversation, so attendees can literally “be on the same page.” But prioritise conversation to maximize the time people are looking at each other.
Read this article by Harvard Business Review: What it Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting?
In our weekly team meetings (Level 10 Meetings in EOS Traction world), we start with some good personal and business news to share with other team members. It may sound a little over the top, but it works well to strengthen relations and get an inside view of others’ lives. With our client meetings, we always begin with some good news about our company, such as a new client or new exciting technology to share. This always starts meetings on a positive note.
It is vital to have a meeting facilitator that can guide and time the meeting. We commonly limit the core meeting length to 30 minutes with 10 minutes set aside to kick off and summarise the discussion and next actions. The facilitator should also be able to resolve basic questions on the technology being used.
This is no different from in-person meetings. There are always loud and dominant people in the room. The high “D” in the DISC profile or the Leading Lion types so well described by Dr Larry Little. Engage the quieter staff members through questions. You may be surprised at the insights they will bring to the meeting.
Make sure to take notes on next actions with clear responsibilities and timelines. In Traction world, we call them To-Dos. To-dos are actions that will be performed within the next week or two weeks. Simple activities with binary outcomes such as done or not done are known to drive excellent accountability. In particular when you measure how many of these To-Dos actually get done!
We all know that marrying calendars can be a nightmare. In the case of team meetings, set a regular meeting time that is fixed in stone. No other business gets in its way. With less frequent client meetings, we always seek to schedule our next appointment before the current one is over. This saves enormous time and hassle for both parties.
Ask yourself if the agenda was met, whether there was clarity around next actions and how engaged people were. We call these Level 10 meetings, as they are marked out of 10. If anyone scores the meeting less than an 8 there needs to be a clear explanation as to why. While simple, this is a remarkably effective way to get honesty on the table and determine how well the meeting was run.
We hope these practical steps are useful to you. Online meetings are here to stay, so we might as well put some effort to make them as productive and pleasant as possible.
Watch out for our handy guide to online meeting technology. If you’re looking for more useful information to better enable your business for Remote Working, make sure to check our article: The Best Tips and Guides for Remote Working. Alternatively, read Our Short Guide on how to safely Implement Remote Working.