I had the pleasure of starting Monday mornings in July with a terrific group of women leaders interested in the idea of "sustainable work," during a time when many of us are working (and doing so much else) from home. Through three one-hour interactive webinars, we shared successes and struggles related to Managing Myself, Managing a Team, and Managing Meetings.
Two themes kept coming up, particularly related to managing teams and meetings in a virtual environment. First: reflect on what you already know. Second: it's not about the technology.
It's easy to blame video technology for meetings that feel dull, disconnected, and draining. It's easy to blame disengagement on the very real phenomenon of "Zoom fatigue." But if I asked you "what makes a meeting a good one?," you'd probably name some version of these four elements: the purpose, the people, the plan, and the prep. So before you pick up the phone or click on the meeting link, pause to consider these four Ps.
- Purpose. Do you know why you're meeting? Are you bringing people together to inform, discuss, decide, connect? If you're the leader or convenor, have you clearly communicated the purpose(s) to everyone who's attending?
- People. Who's been invited? Will everyone who needs to be there be present? Has anyone been included who doesn't need to be in the meeting? (If yes, they'll probably appreciate taking the meeting off their calendar!) Particularly if your team is distributed across time zones, is the meeting happening at a time of day that enables participation? How are you making the meeting inclusive and accessible for participants?
- Plan. What's the agenda? Are there clear goals? Is there time for the group to connect, to engage with each item, and to set next steps? If a decision needs to be made, is it clear how the group will arrive there? Whose responsibility is it to facilitate, to take notes, and to attend to group norms like how people use time and get a chance to speak?
- Prep. Make sure that participants know what's expected of them before and during the meeting. If people need to read or do something in order to be fully engaged, give plenty of notice -- or make time during the meeting to read and reflect. Finally, if you're the leader or facilitator, prepare yourself. Give yourself a few extra minutes to arrive, to welcome your colleagues, and to hold space for the group's work.
We can all learn new skills. We can use the technology we have to its maximum creative capacity. (If you're using Zoom, the "help" videos are actually helpful.) And first, we need to practice what we already know about making meetings meaningful. We have to shift our focus to the meaning.
Want to learn more? Take a look at the embedded links in this post, consider the tips in Co-Creative's Virtual Meetings for Clarity and Momentum, and download the new Virtual Gathering Guide from Priya Parker, one of my favorite thinkers on the topic of bringing people together.
Was this useful? Please share with a colleague. Have a question? Want to exchange lessons-learned, brainstorm how to revitalize a meeting you're planning, or get a quick tutorial on building a great team-meeting agenda? Reach out to me here. Thanks for reading!