70% of managers say that meetings they attend are unproductive and inefficient. It’s time to stop wasting time in endless meetings and take back your day. We’re going to cover 6 tips to create better meetings in a virtual environment.

1. Maximize the 5

When you’re facilitating a meeting, you should log in to your meeting at least 5 minutes before the start. Maximize that time and use it to build relationships with your other team members. As team members join the meeting, engage them in light discussion. Ask them about their weekend. Ask them about their day. Build those relationships in the time before the meeting starts. This also helps the attendees relax and prepare to participate in the meeting, and they’ll feel more connected if you spent some time at the beginning getting them engaged.

2. The 50-Minute Meeting

Go right now to your calendar and change all of your one-hour meetings to 50 minutes. We often have back-to-back meetings and never get a chance to take a break or even get refill our coffee. As a result, we tend to be chronically late to meetings. Take those meetings from 60 minutes to 50 minutes and give your teammates that 10 minutes in between meetings to take care of things outside of work. This will also help reduce multi-tasking when your teammates know that they get a break to check their messages or respond to texts.

3. Virtual = Visible

One of the challenges with using video-conferencing all the time is that your teammates’ faces are up all. the. time. This can create a lot of unnecessary stress for your team when they feel like they constantly have to be staring at the screen. Instead, switch periodically between the video view and sharing a software like your meeting minutes. It gives your team a visual break and lets them focus on the meeting instead of watching themselves on video.

4. Distractions, Distractions

We want to eliminate as many distractions as possible so our team can focus in those 50 minutes. Before you start the meeting, turn off anything that beeps, dings or rings. Close out all of the applications on your computer that make any sort of notification or have pop-ups, and ask your meeting participants to do the same. It’s very easy to get distracted when you have a pop-up or a ding, and it’s also distracting to everyone else who can hear that on the meeting. When something dings, you’ll find that you waste precious time having to repeat what you just said.

Instead of relying only on verbal cues in these meetings, use some visual cues.

5. Interactivity

You can make your meetings more interactive by integrating surveys and polls throughout the meeting. You can do fun surveys like “Where is your dream vacation?”. Or, you can create a survey that is relevant to the meeting topic to make sure that all of your attendee’s voices are heard. In a virtual environment it is a lot harder to create that engagement, so creating a survey gives people a direct option to provide feedback and participate.

6. Visual vs. Verbal

In video-conferencing, we find it really difficult to interrupt each other or to make our voice heard. Meeting facilitators often go down the attendee list and ask each individual person for their input. It’s wasteful. And it makes your attendees feel like they have to wait to be called upon to give feedback.

Instead of relying only on verbal cues in these meetings, use some visual cues. Ask your team participants to use hand gestures to indicate their agreement or disagreement. A simple thumbs-up vs. thumbs-down or hands-in-the-air to indicate agreement helps those individuals have their voice heard, but helps us stop talking over each other.

You can also use something as simple as red, green and yellow post-it notes. Periodically during the meeting, ask your team for feedback. “Do we all agree?”. If yes, hold up your green sticky note; if you need further discussion, hold up your yellow or your red sticky note. Then, as the facilitator you can call on those who have yellow or red sticky notes and make sure that they get their concerns or their issues addressed

Get creative with your meetings! Remember that meeting are two-sided. The attendees have an obligation to participate, but the facilitator has an obligation to keep them engaged. Integrate these 6 simples tips to make your meetings more effective, right now.

Watch our Stop the Meeting Madness webinar for more details! 

Author: Allison Greco

Author: Allison Greco

Founder, CII

I created my foundation with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and MBA from the University of Oklahoma. Over the past decade, I have held Continuous and Process Improvement roles for Black Hills Energy, Williams, the US Air Force and BNSF Railway. I’ve started new CI programs and reinvigorated stale ones. Along the way I earned a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and became a licensed Professional Engineer.