Navigating the Remote Reality — 10 Ways to Avoid Mind-numbing Virtual Meetings

Virtual Meetings remote reality

By Ernie Humphrey, CTP

The age of Remote Reality has arrived. Work from home is the new norm for many of us and with that comes the challenges of virtual meetings. With connectivity issues, frozen faces, or interesting background activities, the struggle of conducting valuable virtual meetings is real. Whether you are leading or attending virtual meetings, here are the best ways to avoid disasters.

Let’s start with the best practices for leading virtual meetings:

1. Agenda and goals are key for any meeting, virtual or not.

Share the agenda and goals with all meeting attendees prior to the meetings so they can be prepared for an effective meeting.

2. Provide context to your attendees on why they have been invited and the reason you need them at this virtual meeting.

This will give your attendees an incentive to listen, engage, and not multitask during a meeting.

3. Use video for meetings that involve making an important decision or resolving a meaningful issue.

Non-verbal gestures matter and accountability is often “improved” with eye contact even if it is just virtual eye contact.

4. Use a tool that allows you to track attendee attentiveness, and learn how people can “get around” this functionality.

If someone uses multiple monitors in general, ensure they have all but one monitor off during your meeting.

5. Record meetings to share with colleagues that can’t attend, wouldn’t benefit from actively participating or need to be kept “in the loop” of what takes place.

6. Do not invite people to virtual meetings only as a CYA (cover your backside).

This is not a good use of anyone’s time, and if you need to CYA with any degree of frequency then you need to look into how to improve your work environment.

Now, the money maker. Here’s how to avoid virtual meetings that do not offer you the ROI you deserve for your time:

1. Control your calendar.

Sharing your availability is one thing, but not everyone needs to see all detail or add meetings to your calendar. Doing so will mitigate your risk in being dragged into meetings that offer you and your employer no value.

2. Don’t be afraid to decline a virtual meeting request.

If you do not value your time your colleagues will fail to do so as well. If you feel declining a meeting may cause internal political turmoil, discuss with your boss or colleague and get their insights as to whether you really need to attend a meeting.

3. Ask for an agenda.

If an agenda is not offered for a virtual meeting then you should politely ask for one so you can determine what value you add and would receive in attending the meeting. Position asking for an agenda as wanting to be sure you are prepared for a meeting. If you are not prepared for a meeting, do you really need to attend?

4. Don’t be a passive meeting attendee.

If a meeting is getting “off track” then steer it back to its objectives. Meeting leaders often appreciate not needing to always be the “bad guy” in keeping people on task.

Lastly, I’ll add this. Meetings are expensive, people’s time is valuable. Before attending or scheduling a virtual meeting, ask if what needs to be accomplished could easily be achieved with a simple email.

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