Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Conducting Virtual Meetings

Have you been on a virtual meeting that was incredibly unproductive?   Do you have to conduct some team meetings virtually because you are not all co-located?  How can you make things better?  Mars Mullenweg, from the company that created WordPress, has some good suggestions in Fast Company this month about how to conduct better virtual meetings.   Specifically, he offers four tips:

  1. He notes that it becomes very easy to misinterpret the meaning of a message in a text-based chat platform.  Therefore, you need to take the time to write a few extra words, to elaborate on your thoughts.  Take care to be a bit extra sensitive in how you say things.  Being too concise can cause people to believe that you are being curt with them. 
  2.  Sometimes, it becomes clear that two parties are really talking past one another in an online chat.  At that point, rather than continuing in a time-consuming back-and-forth, take a moment to pick up the phone.  A quick conversation by phone can help clarify a confusing situation.
  3. Don't multi-task.   You have to focus so that you can listen carefully, ask people for clarification, and offer your comments in a way that builds appropriately on others' comments. 
  4. Recognize when an in-person meeting is appropriate.  Sometimes, a virtual chat and even a phone conversation simply are not sufficient.  You have to spend the time and money to meet in person.  Knowing when that is the case, and acknowledging that, proves to be a very important team leadership skill. 

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