Strategies for effective virtual meetings

April 28, 2020

We're hearing from our clients that experience and comfort with virtual platforms vary. Since it is new for many of us, we can use this time to experiment and learn what works best from one another.

The entire Blueprint team is working from home this week, but that’s not stopping us from meeting. Video conferencing has quickly become our go-to – it’s simply easier and more intuitive to engage and connect effectively when we can see one another.

If videoconferencing is fairly new for you, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, Webex, and GoToMeeting are a few platforms to explore. Each has various features to help make participation easiest for you. (I find the captioning feature in Google Hangouts helpful for staying focused on the conversation.)

Any meeting is more effective if you prepare in advance. Here are some guidelines we use to make video conferencing work for us.

1. Keep it short.

Conducting a three-hour strategy session by video conference is painful. Break up longer meetings into smaller, more focused agendas to keep participants engaged.

2. Provide key points and updates in advance of your meeting.

If possible, don’t waste time on status reports on a video call. Share background materials and a rundown of key points in advance to keep meetings shorter and to help participants prepare. This ensures meeting time is saved for focused discussion and deliberation.

3. Begin with a personal-professional check-in.

Acknowledge that this may be a new medium for team members, and provide a moment for participants to share for what works for them. Round robin discussions provide everyone with an opportunity to weigh-in as they choose.

4. Minimize multitasking

Effective meetings require people's full attention and it's no different for virtual settings. We know people are coping with providing care for children at home and face other distractions, but make clear that meeting time isn’t the time to check email. All the more reason to keep the agenda brief and focused.

5. Make use of your screen.

Most platforms include a way to share a screen or presentation with the group. These can be used as a virtual flip chart for noting key decisions and as a place to park ideas for discussion later.

What tips do you have for effective virtual meetings?

Reach out if you have advice to share from your own experiences with virtual engagement, or want to connect about what's unfolding for you and your organization during this challenging time.

Community helping community is how we'll get through, so let's stay connected.