Keep it Short: 7 Keys To Maximize Your Remote Meetings As a Leader
It can’t be just about the food anymore.
For generations the promise of a great breakfast or lunch served in the conference room could improve the attendance and enthusiasm for a mandatory meeting in the office. But the growth of remote work calls for the likelihood of virtual meetings for many—if not most—of scheduled meetings.
According to Small Business Trends., AND CO and Remote Year report in their 2018 survey, that “55% of the respondents said they worked remotely 100% of the time. There was another 28% who said they worked remotely and on-site, with another 15% stated they are mostly on-site working remotely only some of the time.”
So if you are one of the millions who manages the remote meetings every week or attends hours and hours of zoom conferencing each week, here are some tips to making the meetings the most effective they can be.
The first thing to remember is it doesn’t have to be bad.
"People don't hate meetings, they hate meetings that waste their time," Ellen Faye, a productivity and leadership coach, tells CNN.
With the likelihood of virtual meetings expanding for almost everyone in the workforce, knowing how to do it right is essential.
Zoom reports that in 2018, Zoom Video Communications hosted more than 39 billion annualized meeting minutes. That marks 135% growth over 2017. According to Synergy Research, the video conferencing and collaboration market is set to grow to well over $6 billion in 2019.
A recent report from MZA Consultants, shows that the global video conferencing market expanded to $3.9 billion in 2019.
1. Don’t do it all the time. Regularly scheduled meetings are good, but resists the urge to call everyone in a conference call for a meeting just because you can. “Virtual meetings are immensely important for remote teams because they are a quick way to get everyone on the same page. The tricky part here is not to overdo it and hold too frequent or too long meetings,” according to Business2Community.
2. Have a clear agenda and send it out ahead of time. This means more than 10 minutes ahead of the meeting. I can’t count how many meetings I have attended where the most important information is sent in multiple attachments moments before—and even during—the meeting. “If you are expecting your meeting to be effective and productive and you want to be able to make a decision, you need a certain degree of information and data," Faye tells CNN.
3. Make sure everyone can connect. Many times at least half of the people in the meeting phone in instead of use video conferencing and the lack of a visual connection is a disadvantage. Make sure you have given enough time and explanation so everyone has downloaded the app. “The central challenge of designing and running remote meetings is to get and keep people actively engaged. Your remote meeting technology should enable you to create attractive spaces that invite engagement,” according to InfoQ.
4. Watch the clock. While an hour-long meeting is the usual time, go over your agenda and see if it can be shorter and advise the attendees of a quicker meeting. Gary Wilkinson writes in Baltimore Post- Examiner, “Keeping your online meetings under an hour is the best way to maximize retention and keep everyone engaged throughout the entire meeting. Long meetings tend to be tiresome, and can cause their attendees to daydream, start side conversations, or even fall asleep.”
5. Be strategic. No long intros, no aimless chatter. Wilkinson advises, “Allocate blocks of time to specific subjects, and adhere to those time blocks as strictly as possible. If someone needs extra information or has extra questions, refer them to your email or office hours for a one-on-one conversation later on. Adhering to time requirements will ensure your meeting doesn’t take too long, causing those in attendance to become bored and uninterested in the material.”
6. Establish a goal. Keep an eye on the prize of solving a problem, brainstorming or simply checking in on progress to determine next steps. Nadine Sinclair writs in Nature, “The first step to a good meeting is defining the meeting objective — the ‘why.’ This will aid in keeping the discussion focused and will help to measure the success of your meeting. If you’re certain a meeting is necessary, determine its aim.”
7. Can you keep it to 15 minutes? Steven Rogelberg writes in Ideas.Ted, “Global tech firm Percolate has set their default length for meetings at 15 minutes. Marissa Mayer, the former president/CEO of Yahoo, would create large time blocks filled with 10-minute meeting windows.” While this may indeed be short and sweet, see if trimming to 20-30 minutes could work. Rogelberg calls these a huddle and this is what happens: “Typically occurs at the same time each day (or every two or three days). Starts and ends on time (you never want to run over). Is often done in the morning. Usually involves the same people.” The meeting covers what has happened, what will happen, key metrics and obstacles.
The good news is if you can manage your remote team well through efficient, short, effective meetings, then you just may have a happier, more productive team.
“A good 82% of telecommuters have less stress than their office-worker counterparts,” Maurie Backman writes in The Motley Fool.
“The fact that most telecommuters experience less job stress than those who work in offices unearths another good reason to support remote arrangements. Folks who work from home can more easily avoid getting sucked into other people's conflicts.”
Backman continues, “Employees who get the option to work from home are often less distracted, more productive, and less likely to burn out.”
So you don’t get a chance to have the mini-souffles at the breakfast meeting or the veggie subs at lunch. A remote meeting can be swift and painless and you can get on with the rest of your day.