As the pandemic rages on, organizations are faced with new opportunities to keep business operations moving. In a recent Forbes article, columnist Amy Osmond Cook shares four strategic tips to engage in productive and supportive virtual meetings for your staff to keep things moving and on track. Here are some highlights of that article. 

Be Clear about the Purpose of the Meeting

Start your meeting with a clear purpose in mind, then make sure to keep your discussion short and sweet. Amy recommends that the standard length of an online meeting should be no longer than 30 minutes—since humans have short attention spans, the more concise, the better. 

Be Organized but Flexible

Much like managers need to understand the purpose of a virtual meeting, attendees must also know the scope of what will be discussed. That means you need to write an agenda that covers all the essential points you want to cover without going overboard. Paul Axtell, who wrote Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations, suggests that, as a goal, you should put 20 percent fewer items on your agenda than you originally intended to, with about four to five points. 

Amy says that the best meetings often involve collaboration. According to an article from Harvard Business Review, the size of your meeting can impact responsibility. Known as the Ringelmann Effect, “the bigger the group, the less responsibility each individual feels to ensure success.”

Know Your Audience

The next step to conducting an effective meeting is to know your audience. An Experian study found that “emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.” For example, while your sales team might appreciate opening the meeting with a few jokes, your marketing team may like statistics. “Switch your approaches, and you might end up with some very bored salesmen and a marketing team that is confused and uncomfortable,” warns Amy. 

Assign Deadlines

Let’s face it: Working online is not easy. To gain better control over the constant ebb and flow of information, it’s important that your employees know what their responsibilities are before and after every meeting. To that end, Amy shared strategic steps to ensure your team is on task. 

  1. When scheduling meetings, you should try to pick times that are appropriate for all parties on the call. “Checking in with every individual regarding the time of the meeting will make sure all your employees can be present and will feel valued,” says Amy.
  2. After the meeting is scheduled, remind your employees by sending out a calendar invitation that includes the link to the meeting space. You should also make sure that they accept the invitation. 
  3. At the end of every meeting, clarify the action items for each person or team verbally. This way, you can check in, ask questions, and send your colleagues off on the right track. “You should also send a follow-up email after the meeting with the same information for reference,” said Amy.

Whether virtual meetings are part of your organization’s transitional strategy or a permanent fixture in your management routine, building a virtual meeting based on delivering a clear, purposeful message to your targeted audience based on a specific agenda opens up opportunities for a successful, collaborative, and participatory virtual meeting.

To read the full Forbes article, click here.