Weeks into virtual work environments – we wanted to check in on you. How is working in the virtual space going for you?
With meetings filling up the calendars and calls that go on with “Can you hear me?”, here are some pointers that could be useful for your next meeting.
Before a virtual meeting
Share the to-do list well in advance of the meeting. The quickest way to lose morale is to look at the long list of activities before a meeting, especially when the to-do is about the meeting. A to-do list will also convey the tone for the meeting, and help you be aware of the possible hick-ups. A little bonus tip, get into a project management software if your organization is not already using one.
Have a meeting agenda
This is lesson #101 for a virtual meeting. This agenda would give a sense of direction and pace for the meeting. It also makes the team aware of what to expect and be prepared.
Keep it short
The meeting agenda will help you understand the actual time needed for this meeting. Be honest and answer this question, "How often have you been surfing the internet or replying emails while you were in an online meeting?" You are not alone! We have evolved to lose attention quickly. Perhaps shorter meetings could help, or splitting a long meeting through the day by giving updates might be useful too.
Oh yes! This can make your team bond well. These roles could be like an MC, who gets the meeting back on track. Borrowing from the Toastmasters, there can be someone to keep a check on time too. However, these are just suggestions – but giving people roles would make them more focused and fun activity.
Establish meeting hygiene
Ensure that everyone understands the basic ground-rules of the meeting. There are some common ones including, muting mic when you are not talking and trying to keep the background noise low. Guidelines can also be that if your child or pet walks in during the meeting, that is perfectly ok.
Make a routine
Schedule the regular team meetings as much as possible around the same times. This translates into creating a ritual around work and sets a rhythm in the brain. But always remember to keep the meetings it short.
While these are some of the pointers that you can keep in mind before the meeting, Let’s look at what protocols you can have during the meeting
Be mindful of team temperament
Remember the fun little activity at school that got great responses where the teacher puts up a chart and each child can put a symbol against how they feel? Look at a quirky way to do the same for your meeting crew – this would set the tone for the meeting. A lot of body language gets missed while meeting the team digitally.
It is that simple - communicate how you feel. In this testing time, it is natural for us to feel a host of emotions. Perhaps the team member' families are not together, or they are facing some issues at a personal level, financial anxiety, uncertainty. All of these would affect work.
Have informal non-work talks
Ensure that the meeting allows time for the participants to engage in some informal non-work talk. This brings in normalcy and increases team building.
Ensure that you take those in-meeting breaks
Breaks can pull the team’s focus back and make it easier to resolve questions and doubts
These are a few simple hacks that you can do. Nevertheless, there is no one solution for all. Take in what works for you. Remember to give some cool-in period so that it helps to settle down. You are all set for kick-ass virtual meetings, don’t you agree?