Meetings are hard whether you’re in-person or remote. Making meetings meaningful is the same work in both cases—and it’s a thing we’re passionate about. There are some unique challenges for those of us who are remote, too, and they’re worth understanding. Our team has a lot of practical advice:
Meetings can be tough online; after all, they are hard enough in person. Here are three things I have found essential when in online meetings:
Lose other screens and your phones. Everyone can tell when you are not paying attention. If you are leading an online meeting you can tell as well, so be courteous.
Mute when you are not talking. There’s nothing like a barking dog, ringing doorbell, or background noise to ruin the experience for others.
In consulting, we start our meetings by telling people to speak one at a time. You may have to slow down your speed of communication to ensure everyone can be heard one at a time.
Natalie Born | VP of Innovation
Make the most of meetings. Meetings are a critical link to your colleagues. They are opportunities to discuss, clarify, align, and decide. Try to share progress prior to the meeting. Clearly ask for what you need to move forward.
Matt Morasky | Head of Client Services
When clients and working teams span countries, cultures, languages, and coffee shops, the project goals, timelines, and workflow processes need to be defined as early in the engagement as possible. Unlike face-to-face meetings where body language and eye contact can communicate “what you’re saying is completely derailing the conversation!” remote meetings must rely only on virtual measures. During an initial client kick-off call, reconfirm objectives and assumptions, establish delivery milestones, and set expectations for each phase of the project. This will help the team stay focused on the task at hand.
Annie Pomeranz | Director of Operations & Project Management
There’s so much to say here, but overall, be hypersensitive to people’s time. Extroverts like to talk, introverts like to think, but everyone only has 1,440 minutes in a day.Set recurring meetings—curb chaos by limiting last-minute meetings whenever possible. Create consistent touchpoints with your team, crafting the content to current needs.
Co-create agendas—be planful as a team to manage priorities. Make it taboo to invite people to meetings without telling them what will be covered and in what order.
No avatar attendees—encourage a cameras-on culture to maximize involvement and connection. Give your A-game to reading the faces and actions of your attendees.
Matt Adams | Head of Creative Services
Make sure to set up a regular communication schedule with your team so that everyone can stay in-the-loop and up-to-date on what’s going on with different projects and tasks. These meetings are important for helping to keep everyone on the same page so that things can flow smoothly. It is important to supplement these regular meetings with communication tools like Slack which can help teams relay information simply and quickly at all times of the day, without the need to speak directly.
Joey Kenney | Director of Business Development
So many articles for online meetings. Topics to address are:
Types of meetings
Best practices, roles, and responsibilities
Tools that can help you succeed
When to use a third-party facilitator and why
I think this is the largest way that people can improve their work-life, by using the best tool for the situation, learning how to collaborate, and setting agreed-upon ways of working in a meeting environment.
Parker Lee | Managing Partner
I’ve already said, “turn your cameras on.” I’ll only add this—and this is true whether you’re remote or not: don’t schedule meetings that don’t have a clear purpose. Don’t go past your time unless your participants give you permission. Don’t agree to go to meetings if you know they’ll be successful without you. And don’t forget to spend a quick minute connecting with the other folks in your meetings.
Jeremy Varo-Haub | Lead Strategist, Senior Designer
Have them, keep them, make them. Be productive with them but the social connection will be beneficial also when working remotely. My recommendation is to have shorter meeting time limits but more of them to keep focus while also creating more connection points.
Squid, a rescued street cat living the high life in the Varo-Haub household, loves long naps, walks on the counter, and chasing a toy BB8 down the hallway. She'd be a heck of a strategist if she could talk.
She's delighted Jeremy works from home so she can climb up his back, walk on his keyboard, and throw things off of his desk.
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