4 Simple Keys to Effective (Remote) Meetings
Why this article now? Do we really need a refresher on how to have effective meetings?
With the rise of the COVID-19 around the world, collaboration is essential to move business forward and respond to the urgent situation facing our respective organizations. Remote meetings are a necessary way to do this, enabled by virtual conference rooms. Effective meetings are rare. But your meetings don’t have to be that way.
As companies address the fallout of the virus we need to make sure meetings are as effective as possible. Massive disruptions to business-as-usual are creating more work, while quarantine measures, potential sickness and cash constraints leave fewer people to do it. By setting the expectation that meetings have a clear structure, you can avoid unnecessary meetings and provide a foundation for your team to rebuild.
Reasons Meetings Fail
The primary reason meetings fail is that there is no structure. If you are lucky, an invitation is sent out with a title like “Daily Production Review.” That’s it. No agenda, no responsibilities, and really no idea “What?” information will be reviewed in the meeting. Without this simple first step, the attendees will come into the meeting with their own “agenda.” People will be invited that didn’t really need to be, and people that should have been invited will be absent. And even worse, the information that is critical to the success of the meeting and for the next actions will not be available.
Besides the agenda for what will be discussed in the meeting, there should be some structure regarding who will manage the meeting. This would be the facilitator. Typically, this is the person that sent out the invite. Without a facilitator, even meetings with a prescribed agenda will run over, people will get long-winded, and attendees will detach. For remote meetings especially, a facilitator is a must.
Any successful meeting needs to be documented. Who is taking the notes and will issue the minutes after the meeting? Even for a quick meeting, there should be a short set of notes that can be sent out to all participants. This is a valuable tool to document what was said and ensure that everyone is on the same page with the outcomes. A good set of notes will also ensure that the next meeting or follow-up is as productive as it can be.
Finally, there has to be an action list. If the group is meeting and there are no actions, then send out a newsletter. A meeting should be about getting something done, or at the least set up a plan and a path forward to accomplish important tasks. If it is really just about an update, send out a memo. Just as is the case with the meeting minutes, the action list should be the responsibility of someone in the meeting to capture, verbalize, and communicate in written form as part of the meeting minutes.
Meetings are important to keep your team on-task and are useful tools when you put a few things in place:
- Have an Agenda with Assigned Topic Leaders
- Assign a Facilitator
- Document the Meeting
- Generate an Action List
Doing these items as a minimum will make your meetings more productive. In uncertain times, a basic structure suppresses chaos and provides your team the time to adjust to new challenges together.