Virtual meetings can be challenging. Here are my best tips to make sure your next one is a success.
Before the meeting
Include a way for people to share input and ideas prior to the meeting. Some of us may think of something when receiving the meeting invite that may be forgotten in the actual meeting.
Specify that you intend to keep the meeting as short as possible.
Starting the meeting
Make sure you initiate the meeting with a warm and short introduction to set the tone.
Include a unifying sentence to the group relatively early on, to underline inclusivity and to spark the team feeling. It should be a general question such as “I hope you all had a lovely start to your week and got yourself a nice cup of coffee”.
Set aside a few minutes to introduce participants that do not know each other. Make them each give a short introduction.
Be sure to ask if the information you have provided was easy to grasp. Let everybody know that there´s a low threshold for asking if anything should be unclear.
During the meeting
Try to keep it as short as possible. I suggest 45 minutes rather than 1 hour. This has in many ways shown to increase effectiveness in my meetings, as well as opening up for a small break if someone is heading into a new one right after.
Ask for input. Don´t wait until the end of the meeting to do so.
Give tasks. If the meeting is merely an information meeting, give people short and easy tasks such as “What would you say could be risk factors by proceeding with this idea?”
If you are brainstorming, give people space to write down their ideas individually. Share them with everyone and anonymously if possible, before you continue working on them. It generates more and often better quality ideas.
If the meeting is discussion based, make all of the participants “pass the ball” to someone else in their team until everyone has been included. Pair people up in teams if you think the process lacks drive.
Finishing the meeting
Ask participants to write down their thoughts and ideas if they still have some when the meeting is set to end. Sometimes the best comes last.
Thank everyone for their time while showing enthusiasm for the topic despite a potentially rough start.
As a bonus, I strongly suggest you share an article to a real or relevant topic/case. It has many times increased motivation for the project and often makes the participants spin further on the task in the back of their minds.
And sure, these tips can apply to regular face-to face meetings as well.