How to fix your virtual business meetings – Part 1

If you had a chance to read our last week’s article A tale of a failed project meeting, you are probably excited to hear the right answer to the number of failures presented in the story. Especially if you recently took part in a similar online conference call as our story’s hero Bill was. Bill’s project meetings must have been one of the worst in history. However, by learning from the worst, you can be the best. There are several mistakes a meeting host and the attendees can make during virtual business meetings which result in an unproductive, inefficient meeting. We will present some of them below.

How to fix your virtual business meetings - part 1

1. Schedule virtual business meetings on Monday mornings

Let’s face it, it’s hard to blame Bill for not preparing for the meeting that started 9:15 on a Monday morning. Even if he had prepared something on the previous Friday, it wouldn’t have been fresh in his memory right after the weekend. As a meeting host you automatically doom the productivity of the meeting by scheduling it poorly. Allow the attendees to have at least a day prior the meeting to prepare not only their documents but also their minds.

2. No details on the meeting invitation email

An invitation email without a subject line, agenda or other basic information is almost as pointless as not sending one. People who open the email should immediately know when the meeting is happening, what it’s about and why they are invited. This sets the route for their preparation.

3. Zero preparation

Preparation has already been mentioned twice and we’ve only started. This shows the importance of preparation prior the meeting. And this point is for both the meeting host and all the attendees. After receiving the (from now on) extremely informative meeting invitation email, your mind should already start working out how you should prepare for it. Do you need specific documents that you can present to others? Do you need to create a list of action points? Do you need to prepare questions that direct your future work? Whatever you are required to do, it is important that you start your preparation early. Thus, you can edit and develop your part well before the meeting. This will assure your productivity in the meeting.

4. Too many people invited to the meeting

This one is a classic. And for some reason it keeps happening from time and time again. Meeting hosts tend to send meeting invitation emails to people like they would invite them to their wedding: you don’t really know the person, but you would feel bad for not inviting them. Well, if you’re not totally sure whether a person should or shouldn’t be in the meeting, here is an easy rule: don’t invite them! Too many people can ruin collaboration more quickly than unwanted guests ruin the seating order at your wedding. The great thing about virtual business meetings is that you can share the recording of the meeting afterwards with people who it might concern. Let’s blow our own trumpet quickly… you can do this with Drum.

5. Wrong people invited to the meeting

Yes, we wanted to emphasize this point by counting it as one separate failure in addition to the one above. It is highly critical to take time to really think who needs to be in the meeting. We agree, it’s not an easy task. But it is your job as a meeting host. An extremely important job. If the meeting is not about the call centre operations, do not invite Sarah, the Head of the call centre.

6. No clear objectives

When virtual business meetings don’t have clear objectives, no one really knows what they are supposed to talk about. Even though you should indicate it clearly in the invitation email, you should state the reason for meeting right in the beginning of the meeting too. It becomes much easier to drive the conversation straight towards the meeting topic with enhanced productivity.

7. Meeting about a meeting

As Bill and all of us probably have experienced, some meeting hosts love to talk about meetings in the past or future virtual business meetings. Just like Gerald did. Every meeting should be its own separate world. Imagine your meeting as a bubble: each bubble floats in the air happily, until one get too close to another and, pop! Both bubbles burst. That’s what happens to meetings about meetings: the real objective pretty much disappears and the whole meeting collapses. Don’t waste meeting time to cover what’s been already covered in a previous meeting. And do not waste meeting time to schedule a new one. Both of them can be discussed with a simple email.

So far we found 7 failures in Bill’s meeting. We want to keep the excitement for few more days, so we will unravel the rest in our next post. What will be the final number? Comment your guess below!

To be continued…

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