How To Pack a Punch With Shorter Virtual Meetings

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As more people work from home, a big piece of the typical workday is still here: the old-fashioned meeting. They are an essential workday function once carried out in conference rooms or coffee shops and have now moved to the virtual world.

Believe it or not, the average number of meetings has increased from 5.9 in-person meetings pre-coronavirus lockdown to 6.9 virtual meetings now. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, that increase in the number of meetings has actually resulted in a decrease in the average length of meetings from 1 hour to 0.79 hours!

This shows participants spend less time in meetings but find them just as effective. Here are just a few ways trainers and other professionals are finding ways to make the most of shorter meetings while dealing with at-home distractions, pets, family members, and knocks on the door.

Evaluate agenda and attendees

Regularly scheduled weekly or daily meetings are good … but resist the urge to call everyone into the meeting just because you can. Evaluate each week which attendees could skip out if the agenda calls for it. Simply put, don’t overdo it and hold too frequent or too long meetings. Working from home has many of us multitasking and in time crunches.

Watch the clock

This one is easy! Simply watch the clock and set a hard stop if needed. Hour-long meetings are the norm, but can you reduce it? Go over your agenda and find ways to cut it down if possible. Advise meeting participants of the goal of “watching the clock” so everyone is on the same page.

Have a clear agenda and send it out well ahead of time

Give participants a chance to look through the agenda and discussion points at least a couple hours before the meeting so they can come prepared. If you are expecting the virtual meeting to be effective for decisions to be made, attendees need a certain degree of info ahead of time to keep the meeting flowing.

Establish a goal

It’s easy for meetings to drone on, as attendees enjoy the social time and catch-up conversations. But to keep meeting times down, keep an eye on the prize of the resolution or action items needed by the end. Define meeting objective—the “why” and make it clear to all meeting participants. It’ll help keep everyone focused on the meeting instead of what’s going on at home. This will also help you decide if a meeting is needed in the first place, or if an email or phone call would suffice!

Think about the best remote meeting software

Good video conference technology tools are essential for a smooth virtual meeting. There are a lot of video conferencing tools with various attributes that you can pick from based on your needs. Some apps are free, while others have paid plans. Additionally, some apps also provide added functionality like screen sharing, call recording, and interactive whiteboards that encourage engagement.

Record the meeting

The best thing about remote meetings is that you don’t have to manually write down what everyone said like in F2F meetings, because you can record it! Did someone come up with a great idea, or maybe some attendees were unable to attend? Whatever the reason, recording it allows everyone to re-listen to if needed or go back to grab details that may have been missed.

To-do’s after the meeting

It can be easy for remote meetings to feel “done” after they conclude. To ensure accountability and meeting effectiveness, check on the progress of action items after the meeting with follow-up emails or phone calls. Send out a meeting summary and a link to the recording for participants to reference as they complete their tasks.

As a training facilitator or leader, how can you maximize your remote meetings? The Bob Pike Group training team hopes these tips that can have your participants walking away with just as much content in less time. For even more on this topic, visit our one-stop-shop of everything virtual learning, plus check out all the new virtual presentation courses added to the training catalog!