Make Virtual Meetings Worth Your Time – Join Us!
By Danuta McCall

Posted September 16, 2010

Over the past year we have been offering a free webinar series entitled “Designing Interactive Virtual Meetings and Webinars that Keep Participants Engaged”. It has been quite successful and fascinating. Every webinar has been unique, as each group molds its session from the participants’ collective experience, creative thinking and interests. Two upcoming events cause us to reflect on how our thinking has evolved from running these dynamic, highly participatory open sessions. The first event is our next webinar, scheduled for next week on Thursday September 23 at 8 am PDT, 11am EDT, 3 PM UTC (register). This webinar is a warm-up for Julia Young’s interactive session “Getting Great Results from Virtual Meetings” at the upcoming OD Network Conference in New Orleans (click to read more about Julia’s session and the OD Network).

We know that every successful meeting relies on a well-thought out objective, outcomes and agenda. And, good facilitation that engages participants in open, thoughtful thinking and learning (to understand more about the principles of good facilitation, see Susan Peryam’s series on the IAF Facilitator Competencies in this blog). But there are some especially gnarly challenges associated with meeting and collaborating remotely. We’ve created a conceptual structure to frame them for discussion called The Six Critical Success Factors.

6Factors

Over the past 6 months, we’ve really put this framework to the test with the webinar series and with developing curricula for an executive education program at a leading European university and delivering corporate training about group collaboration to clients. We’ve seen our own thinking evolve as a result of this barrage of group creativity.

We now believe that solving the problems of ineffective virtual meetings is even more critical than we first assumed. We hear from organizations that virtual meetings are so unwieldy and laborious that they leave managers little time and energy to focus on the many other aspects of leading successful virtual teams. Turned around, this simply states that learning how to lead effective virtual meetings is likely to have a huge impact on a team’s productivity, creativity and results.

It is also clear to us that technology has been driving the show, primarily web conferencing tools and to some degree social media. But people are realizing that this isn’t the right starting place. We need to step back and look at the basics of setting up a good conversation. Good facilitation has never been more important than it is today. Technology can accelerate great communication, meeting effectiveness and virtual teamwork, but… it cannot create it.

To get great results from virtual meetings we need to be able to: Facilitate an engaging conversation around a focused agenda with only the necessary people who are prepared to accomplish a clear set of outcomes. This begins with a disciplined approach to what we already know about good meeting planning and facilitation. From there we need to pay particular attention to six critical success factors that, at the core, are focused on keeping participants engaged.

We have seen that it’s no longer just facilitators who are interested in how to run virtual meetings. Project managers, team leaders, OD consultants and senior managers are all getting on the band wagon wanting to learn about this for themselves. They recognize the need for basic good meeting management skills, techniques, tools and are hungry for them. Poor virtual meetings are driving demand for good meeting skills across the board.

Come join the evolving conversation! Register for our webinar on September 23 and join your peers in thinking creatively about how to transform virtual meetings and webinars into effective, productive and engaging events. You will experience an interactive virtual event and help build solutions to one of the biggest challenges facing virtual teams today.

Posted by Danuta McCall