Tips for Better Virtual Meetings

Zach Slayton

We and many of our clients have technology such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Slack that we all use regularly, however, research shows that how we conduct the meeting will have more influence over its effectiveness than the specific technology that is used.  Here are some tips to refine the way we lead and participate in virtual teams to help make communication more effective.

The following tips have been compiled from several sources including Harvard Business Review, the Project Management Institute and several other sources. Many of these techniques can be applied to live meetings as well as virtual meetings.

  1. Turn the video on. Seeing each other's faces brings the team together and lets everyone see reactions and engage on a more personal level. It also reduces the temptation for the participants to multi-task which can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of a meeting.
  2. Make the meeting as short as possible but no shorter. Avoid the urge to "fill the hour" and give time back if you complete the topic early.
  3. Use the Minimum Viable PowerPoint (MVP) rule.  Only present slides that are necessary to guide the conversation. Too many slides and it is easy for people's attention to wander. Instead, send materials out after with supporting information and turn the presentation into a discussion.
  4. Encourage participation. Involve the participants in the conversation. Try not to go more than 4-5 minutes without asking someone's opinion or asking them a question. Mix it up and call on different people.
  5. Lead by example and participate. Ask questions and involve other participants even if it isn't your meeting to run. This helps the meeting facilitator keep everyone engaged and sets the precedent that you are engaged and expect others to be as well.
  6. Avoid multi-tasking and encourage others to do the same. Multi-tasking is just a way to do multiple things poorly. It is disrespectful to the others in the meeting and when you are presenting is disrespectful to you. This is another instance where you should lead by example because it's fine for you to multi-task then others will feel it is fine for them to do it too.  It is much better to stay focused, finish the meeting early and give that time back to the whole group.

Consider these tips in your next meeting to see what works best for you and your organization.