6 Ways to Make Your Virtual Meetings Productive

As we are all adapting, to what everyone refers to as, the “new normal” caused by a virus that will continue to live with us for the foreseeable future, virtual meetings have become a daily occurrence. Internal meetings and external meetings have moved online. Making sure that these virtual meetings are as energetic, engaging and as productive as face to face meetings can be a challenge. Here are 6 suggestions that can help make your virtual meetings successful.

  1. Use an agenda

Not having an agenda communicates to attendees that you intend to “have a chat” rather than get business done, exchange ideas, and/or make decisions. Formalize the agenda in writing and send it to the attendees a few days ahead of time for their review and preparation.

  1. List topics in the form of questions

Rather than just having a laundry list of topics to be discussed, list the topics in question form. This will help focus your discussion. Here are a few examples that highlights the difference between focused discussions and rambling discussions.

Typical agenda topic format:

  • Sales for 3rd quarter
  • Tradeshow participation
  • Competitor’s marketing campaign

Agenda topics in question form:

  • What percentage of your 3rd quarter quota has been met to date?
  • Is participating in XYZ tradeshow worth the $15K cost and 2 days time?
  • What is the best strategy for selling against XYZ’s current marketing campaign?

Being specific and listing the topics as questions sets expectations and helps everyone prepare for the meeting and therefore makes the meeting more productive.

  1. Define the purpose for each agenda topic

Have you ever walked away from a meeting thinking that was a waste because you expected that a decision was going to be made at the meeting, but the meeting host just wanted to have a discussion? Defining the purpose for each topic provides attendees with the expectation for each topic. To define the purpose use statements such as:

  • For open discussion
  • For recommendation
  • For decision
  • Q&A
  • For report only
  1. Allocate a time for each topic

Allocating the time to be spent on each topic gives attendees a sense of what is expected. For example, if one of the attendees is expected to give an update on something and you allocated 5 minutes, they will know that you don’t expect a 30-minute slideshow. It avoids spending too much time on some topics and not enough on others.

  1. Assign responsibility

If some of the attendees are responsible for providing information, reporting or doing a presentation, they need to be added to the agenda and identified as the person responsible for that part of the agenda so there are no surprises or confusion as to responsibility.

  1. Summarize conclusions and actions

The final step to making sure that your virtual meetings are productive is summarizing key conclusions and decisions and assigning responsibility for any action items. Add these to your original agenda and send it to all attendees (including no-shows). This provides everyone with complete meeting minutes and provides a reference for everyone involved in the meeting.

Following the above best practices will guarantee that virtual meetings help you achieve your meetings goals and provide attendees with a sense of accomplishment when attending these meetings.

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