We are all working more virtually. Working from home is the new normal for many; we are part of global teams or we work together across many different sites.
Our days can be a stream of conference calls using technology like Blue Jeans, Skype for Business or WebEx.
Let’s be honest: these meeting can be ineffective, dull and difficult to engage with. Sometimes we catch ourselves doing emails at the same time, looking at the news on our phones or doodling continuously with an ear half open.
Working virtually is likely to become an even bigger part of our working lives so our proposal is that we need to make it work for us.
At red10 we believe that what makes a great face to face meetings can always be replicated virtually.
In fact, we often run highly engaging team effectiveness workshops and learning events virtually. It just needs a bit more thought and planning ahead of the meeting.
We’ve learnt some tips along the way, and we’d like to share them with you.
A few of our top tips
Tip #1 Keep it human
At great face to face meetings we chat as we are sitting down to start the meeting and – before the meeting properly starts – we break out to get a coffee with people and bring it back.
We spend some time in virtual meetings checking in.
For example; spin around everyone on the call asking people what’s going on for them now, it can be personal or business, whatever comes to mind is good.
Clients sometimes say we don’t have time for this in our meetings. Interestingly though, when they do try it they get through more items on the agenda. ‘Keeping it human’ increases trust and communication and speeds up meetings.
Tip #2 Bringing in
In a previous article, red10 ‘s Kirsten Campbell talks about “bringing in” and ways to do this. In virtual meetings its even more important to use these techniques.
Knowing that you might be called upon for your wisdom at any time increases engagement and reduces the risk of people multi-tasking with email.
Tip #3 Use the chat room
Almost every virtual meeting technology has a chat room.
We encourage every meeting which has 4 or more people to use the chat room:
• In the chat room we encourage people to have side-conversations, rude in face to face meetings but it works in a virtual meeting. We even coach one team that uses the chat room even when they meet face-to-face in order that they can benefit from the parallel processing and speed it allows.
• We use chat rooms to get a spread of opinion on proposals, using the Fist-5 tool, putting the number you vote i.e. 1-5 in to the chat room.
• We use chat rooms to brainstorm i.e. a question is asked and everyone types in their responses. We then do a virtual Controlled Clustering, with a person taking one of their ideas and leading the clustering process.
We have many more tips and perhaps we will be writing more on this in the future.
Please let us know your best tips too.
If you are interested in how we do team effectiveness or facilitate meetings virtually. Please do give us a call.