You are totally ready to switch to remote working. The team is enthusiastic to reach their objectives while working from home and you are convinced projects can continue while keeping online contact with everyone from the team. After a couple of days, you notice the first issues are popping up: miscommunications, meetings that last double the time they did before, frustrations on technical malfunctions… Believe us, everybody went through this stage. The basic (and most important) question you must ask yourself is:
How do you organize effective online team meetings?
Walk-through the steps below to get confident on how to organize an effective online team meeting, because it all starts by ticking of some boxes.
1. An effective meeting is almost entirely determined by its preparation.
A good preparation enhances the chances of preventing unforeseen (technical) circumstances, reduces your meeting time, helps you achieve meeting goals and creates a sense of participation and added value of the entire team, before the meeting has even started. You can use the CORPI-model to tick-off all requirements for a good meeting invite. It means that you will give more information on Context, Objectives, Roles of participants and the Process used during the meeting (to facilitate Interaction; see number 2)
Here are some tips to assure a qualitative meeting preparation:
- Include a troubleshooting checklist like this one from CISCO in your invitation Email
- Share the agenda (timeslot per discussed item included) of the meeting with all online attendees. This way everyone can prepare potential questions and have a transparent view on when there is room for discussion during the meeting.
- Specify the exact goal of the meeting.
- Include a (Me)etiquette with specific guidelines and friendly requests in your meeting invite. Some best practices we use ourselves are: “Please, …
>>> Put on your video camera to stimulate face-to-face interactions;
>>> Be tolerant of interruptions (phone, doorbell, kids, partners, … );
>>> Listen with the purpose of understanding, not with the purpose of responding;
>>> Mute your microphone if you are not presenting. Ask questions (that you have during presentations) in the group chat and will be handled when the presenter finished his talk;
>>> RELAX. Issues might occur even after a thorough preparation.
2. You are sure you want to organize a meeting and have prepared it well upfront. Now you are ready to facilitate according to the above-mentioned CORPI-model.
- Introduction with a welcome note, clarify goals and objectives of the meeting & introduce the people with different roles (e.g. timekeeper, facilitator, presenter, note-keeper, …). If you have a meeting with a smaller team (< 5 people) you can have a short informal chat before the facilitator starts with the introduction. This way people are comfortable with this video chat meeting and are focused when the introduction begins.
- Presentation by presenter. Facilitator keeps track of the group chat in the meanwhile and informs presenter if there are questions from the team during the presentation. Limit presentations to maximum 30 minutes, and entire online meetings to 1 hour. Remember the attention-span is reduced after 15 min. A small tip from our trainers: if you have a meeting of 1 hour, add a pause of 7 minutes in the middle. Not 5, but 7 minutes. This way people will be more attentive to be back within those specific 7 minutes.
- Use an interactive session/Q&A after the presentation, with your meeting objectives in mind (e.g. The facilitator asks everyone to individually present a comment or question after the presentation).
- At the end, do not forget to summarize the outcome of your meeting and define next steps (of change).
3. Finally, you have a meeting follow-up.
This is necessary to make sure required change is not happening in the meeting and to communicate reached goals to key stakeholders. A meeting is not the place to start working on content. For example, when it is decided during the meeting that a step-by-step approach would help the project move forward, you do not define those steps in that same meeting. This work needs to be done outside of the meeting. In other words: change does not happen during the meeting, but afterwards. Meeting notes and follow-up communications establish this scope for change.
At Threon we created the following framework to structure and tick off all necessary components of a qualitative team meeting. Per component, we have defined actions and tips & tricks tailored to our organization (some of them already appeared in the text above). Feel free to use it yourself! (If you have questions, do not hesitate to get in touch).
Requirements for your team meeting tool
Now you know how to set-up a qualitative and efficient online meeting, which tool suits your needs best? When you pick one, please take the info below into account.
- The possibility to invite people from inside and outside your organization
- The initiation of group chats and one-on-one chats are possible
- You don not need to download anything to start the meeting, only share the meeting link
- You can record meetings and store them safely.
- Everyone can see each other via video (no limitation onf visible videos of participants)
- You can share your screen as a presenter and watch the face-to-face reactions of your participants at the same time
- A digital timer
- A whiteboard that is usable by everyone in the meeting
Test tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business or Zoom (and many more) and discover what fits your organization best.
If you have any questions regarding remote work (on team spirit, practical or technical questions, online workshops or Agile meetings,…), do not hesitate to contact us by sending your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling in our contact form. Because remember: we are #GladYouAsked!