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Tips for online meetings

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Culture & process

We are all becoming experts in online meetings but there are still some things we can improve. After talking to different teams, I have compiled a list of some of the issues that are currently happening in our remote teams and my suggestions to improve them.

People systematically arrive late for meetings

You are no longer walking together to the conference room and the sense of duty towards social norms is slowly disappearing, time to confirm how we want to work!

  • Does that person really need to be there? Maybe they are late because it is not an important meeting for them. Is it time to stop inviting them?
  • Do not wait for that person to arrive to start the meeting, otherwise you will never get out of the dynamic.
  • In the meeting request explicitly explain that you will start on time. Remote work is a lot about explicitly saying what before was obvious or understood. Sometimes it can even feel like we are rebuilding the social norms. As I mentioned in a previous article about Communication in Remote Teams, it is all about repetition. Patience.
  • If it is a recurring meeting and the same person is always late, kindly ask them to be on time, explain WHY: for respect to the people that arrive on time, so we don’t have to repeat, and probably because that person is important for your meeting, tell them, they will feel good. You want team members on your side, not against you 😉

Remote work is a lot about explicitly saying what before was obvious or understood. Sometimes it can even feel like we are rebuilding the social norms.

I am so tired after an online meeting

This is a good sign; it means that you are trying to connect with the team. It means that you are actively listening, that you are thinking and being proactive. It is normal, online meetings take a toll on you. Here are ideas of what you can do to feel less tired:

  • Ask everybody to connect their camera: you will be able to read body language and that is extra information that you will receive. Plus seeing your team will give you an energy boost.
  • Schedule meetings outside your most productive hours so you don’t lose all your energy and have some left to do other work.
  • Stand up during some of the meetings. Your body likes to move! You will receive some extra energy from standing up.

If you are all standing up you will see that meetings will become much shorter.

People arrive 10 minutes early for meetings

This is not really a problem, but it tells you about that person’s needs. They are probably early because they need to socialize before to start talking business. Daily stand ups or project related meetings are not the best place to extensively socialize, think about creating calls just for that. Our HR department at AGENCY04 will be very happy to know that there is this need and to organize some more gatherings and add them to the ones that are already happening.

Meetings take twice long what they used to

  • It takes longer to make decisions: you had clear steps when you were in the office and now they got dissolved. Check if steps needs to be added/subtracted now that you are working remotely. Before starting the meeting remind the team of the goal and structure of the gathering.
  • No focus: choose one person to lead the call and take you where you want to go. Give this person the power to create an agenda, to lead the meeting, to put ideas in a “parking lot” and to limit the time a person speaks. Take turns so you all learn these skills.

And remember, if you are facilitating some of these meetings and you don’t know how effective they are. Ask the attendees for feedback! There are many tools to learn how a team is doing, but a simple survey after the meeting asking “Was the meeting useful? Rate 1 to 5” or “What would you like to improve?” will give you very valuable information.

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