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If you find yourself transitioning to virtual meetings to stay connected during this time, be careful they don't lose their effectiveness. They have the potential to detract from participant accountability by providing more room to lose people’s attention. When people are distracted, meetings lose focus and require more time to get the objective complete.
To keep your meetings on track and on time, consider these tips.
1.Be Prepared—Yes, you’ve heard this many times before, but now is the time to get more organized. It’s important to determine clear objectives and set an action agenda that is tailored to your audience. Consider any obstacles that may come up during your meeting by preparing for any and all roadblocks. Even if you are the only one clear on what is to be accomplished, you can drive the results to meet your needs and declare completion when your objectives are met.
2. Test your technology—The start of a meeting is often delayed, especially if you have new technology that is complex and people who are new to it. Keep technical details simple and remind large groups of the importance of the Mute button. Be the first one on the call and send out instructions prior to your start, encouraging all participants to be free of distractions such as email and texting.
3. Keep engagement high—If you are reviewing any information with accompanying visuals or statistics or if you’re referencing external documents, make sure everyone can follow along. Set up a screen share so that you can direct your audience’s attention with visuals and keep everyone on the same page. Sharing your screen eliminates the need for those pauses and moments of confusion. Keep things interesting by showing appreciation for specific individuals or groups, presenting a few slides, or conducting a poll. Encourage the use of the message board so participants can post questions or comments to be addressed after someone is finished speaking, or at the end of a call.
4. Be direct—One of the challenges of online meetings is knowing who is about to speak or who needs to jump in. Based on the meeting participants and their personalities, virtual meetings can range on the spectrum of everyone talking over each other to long pauses after someone’s finished speaking. Be a facilitator by framing questions specifically to other meeting participants. If people are working together or relying on other steps in the process to move forward, don’t be afraid to ask them specifically if they have anything to add or additional questions. By being direct with turning the conversation, you’ll ensure that you’ve maximized meeting time while allowing everyone to be heard.
5. Wrap it up with a recap— Statistics show that it is much more difficult to get people to take action after remote meetings compared to face-to-face meetings. Bridge the gap by leaving a lasting impression with something to think about, something inspiring or by asking your participants to share something positive. Lastly, follow up the meeting with a documented recap that includes who is doing what, by when.
No matter the meeting format, there’s no need to get lost in the virtual shuffle. By being prepared and engaging your colleagues, your meetings will be clear and on target with your goals.