Most of us are holding more remote meetings now, and if you haven’t noticed, they are inherently different from in-person meetings,” says Howard Tiersky, coauthor along with Heidi Wisbach of Impactful Online Meetings: How to Run Polished Virtual Working Sessions That Are Engaging and Effective. “If you’re not used to running them, you’re going to make tons of mistakes. And those mistakes can have major ramifications in terms of how well people perform once they log off and get back to work.”
So what are some of the biggest mistakes? Here are four of the big ones to avoid.
Neglecting the “big five” success keys of online meetings
If you are seeking to bring people together to share information, come up with solutions, make decisions, coordinate activities, and/or socialize, you will be successful if you:
- Have a clear purpose
- Get participants in the right mindset
- Get them fully engaged behaviorally
- Incorporate high-quality content aligned with the purpose
- Make it easy to participate
Fail to do those things, and meetings are more likely be to awkward, inefficient and unproductive.
Holding voice calls instead of videoconferences
When everyone has their cameras on, you can expect a 200 percent-plus improvement in the effectiveness of online meetings. This keeps people engaged because they know that what they’re doing is visible to everyone else. They’re far less likely to multi-task, which is one of the greatest obstacles to audience engagement.
Failing to be strategic about sequencing
The first item on your meeting agenda should be a restatement of the purpose of the meeting. After that, strategize on the sequence of your activities. For example:
- If there are any “elephant in the room” topics, deal with those early or they will be a distraction.
- If you have some sort of fun or exciting announcement, you may want to hold it for the end, letting the participants know that it is coming but keeping the outcome a surprise to create suspense.
- If an agenda item may be intense or create some heated discussion, put it in the middle—get people warmed up and feeling productive first, then hit them with the challenging topic.
Allowing people to be passive bystanders
Give people something to do to keep them engaged, says Tiersky. He recommends assigning these roles:
- Facilitator (responsible for running the agenda)
- Presenter (responsible for sharing content)
- Timekeeper (watches the clock and alerts facilitators and presenters to adjust their speed and content)
- Notetaker (documents the meeting)
“When done correctly, online meetings are an incredibly powerful method of enabling collaborative work,” assures Tiersky. “It’s worth investing a bit of time and effort in learning how to maximize them. Frankly, they have the potential to move the needle for your business, and right now, this is more important than it’s ever been.”
About the Author:
Howard Tiersky is the author along with Heidi Wisbach of Impactful Online Meetings: How to Run Polished Virtual Working Sessions That Are Engaging and Effective—Zoom|Webex|
For more information, please visit impactfulonlinemeetings.com.