Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Facilitating Effective Virtual Meetings

Patrick Lencioni said it really well - "Death by Meeting". How much time have you spent this week in meetings? How effective have they been?

Chances are, you have probably been on a couple of conference calls or virtual meetings. Where did your attention go?

Here are seven tips to keep in mind when considering facilitation of your next virtual meeting:

1. Send out an agenda a few days prior to the call, asking for feedback and input (by a specific date). Follow the agenda during the call.

2. Make the purpose of the meeting explicitly clear so individuals can gauge their need for participation, and what they may need to bring or do prior to the call.

3. If possible, keep it conversational or interactive. Research from virtual learning indicates that virtual participants need to be engaged every 5-7 minutes. Whether it is throwing a question out to the group for discussion, comments (by email) or written reflection, engagement is key!

4. Summarize key decisions, action items and agreements throughout the call. It is easy to "get lost" without the visual cues of a face to face meeting. Summaries along the way will help to keep everyone on the same page.

5. Encourage group members to "bottom line" their comments. As a facilitator of the call, keep an eye on process and keep the call moving. It is easy to get sidetracked and have long-winded stories. Establishing some process guidelines to keep the conversation moving will be very useful.

6. Follow up with a BRIEF summary of the call after wards..

7. Ensure that there is a circling back to check in on action items/commitments as appropriate.

What other tips would you suggest to ensure that your virtual meetings are most effective? Any good resources you know about?

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts below

Warm regards

Jennifer Britton
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Potentials Realized - Leadership, Teamwork, Retreats