You had planned a full-way working session for 12 participants to create a detailed action plan. Due to travel and time constraints, you now must accomplish the same results with the same people in a 2 hour remote meeting. You have two weeks to make this happen. Where do you begin?
- Don’t panic! The key to devising a workable plan is to 1) simplify the agenda and 2) engage your participants early.
- Do consider the scope of the meeting. What are the objectives that must be accomplished in one sitting? Think about what really needs to be addressed during this meeting and what could be done outside of the meeting. Reach out to the 12 participants and ask them to prioritize the items on your full-day agenda, telling you what they think is essential, what would be nice to cover and what items wouldn’t be missed. If you have online meeting tools, a quick survey or asynchronous topic would be an efficient way to do this.
- Do consider who really needs to be in the meeting. In general, the fewer the participants, the more productive the conversation. Is it possible to gather input from some people ahead of time and limit the actual meeting to those who need to make decisions?
- Do find ways to accomplish the remaining objectives in other ways, such as by email, one-on-one phone calls or giving small groups assignments to do offline.
- Don’t leave the group feeling at a loss because a face-to-face meeting was canceled. Make an individual phone call to each of the participants to explain the change in venue, review the objectives and underscore the importance of their input.
- Do communicate to your group the importance of being well prepared for the virtual meeting. Completing the pre-work will help sharpen the focus and level the playing field, enabling participants to launch right into the meat of the meeting.
- Don’t ignore the social component that creates team bonding in a face-to-face session. Kick off the meeting with an ice-breaker and plan a fun quiz or game for a mid-session break.
- Do use collaborative technology to help you run an efficient, productive virtual meeting. Consider video conferencing when the group is brand new. Consider web conferencing if there is a significant presentation component. Use online brainstorming and decision support tools when you need to solicit multiple opinions and prioritize alternatives.
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