The Science of the Perfect Virtual Meeting

perfect virtual meeting - The Science of the Perfect Virtual Meeting

American workers spend a lot of time in meetings – an average of 6 hours per week by some estimates, with the total number of weekly meetings across the country as high as 55 million. At the same time, nearly half of all meetings are rated as “poor” by employees, meaning they walk away feeling as though their time has been wasted and little was accomplished. (Verizon)

At their worst, bad meetings make employees feel de-valued, demoralized, and isolated. This is a major concern for virtual teams, which typically spend even more time in meetings to replace the convenience of physically dropping by each other’s desk.

So virtual team managers, take note! Below are the three scientifically proven steps to hosting meetings that leave your team feeling valued, energized, and productive:

Step 1: The Science of Perfect Preparation

Over half of respondents in the Verizon survey recognize that good preparation makes for a good meeting, and it often starts with an important question: Do we even need a meeting? Issues to consider:

Issue Impact
Is there a decision to make or a problem to be solved? Make sure each meeting is worth having! Meetings that are just about sharing information can be perceived as wasteful, pulling team members away from more important tasks. – especially when an email would suffice.
Who needs to attend? Ensure that all attendees will be in a position to learn crucial information or contribute to the discussion. Those who will not do so should not be invited. This leads to a greater sense of psychological satisfaction and higher engagement.
How much time does the meeting truly need? Make the meeting as short as possible while still accomplishing the desired goals. The more time your team has to do their work, the higher their morale.
Why are we here? Share a meeting agenda and objective beforehand, providing everyone the opportunity to prepare and enter the meeting ready to work.

Step 2: The Science of Perfect Execution

Once your team has gathered, it’s time to make sure the meeting is positive, focused and on time. Especially in the virtual environment where interpersonal cues such as eye contact and body language are not available, it’s critical to ensure:

Issue  Impact
 Stay on topic Stick to the agenda! Gently bring conversation back to the topic at hand when you get sidetracked. If a related point is truly important, you can make a note to focus on and address it later.
 Positive language Model positive and collaborative language patterns to foster an open, productive dialogue. Complaining and using words like “can’t” or “impossible” will suck the energy out of any meeting – particularly virtual ones where tone and word choice are the primary communication tools.
 Know who’s attending Distribute a visual map of attendees, providing a tangible reminder of who is in the meeting and where they are so nobody feels left out or forgotten.
 Value your attendees Make sure everyone gets to participate in a way that suits their personality. For instance, a colleague who is not comfortable speaking up can share his or her thoughts over email beforehand, or in chat during the meeting, allowing them to participate while remaining in their comfort zone.


Step 3: The Science of Perfect Follow-up
Actions taken after a meeting can make or break how that meeting is regarded and valued by your team. With a few simple follow-up strategies, you put your team in the best position to regard the meeting as a success:

 Issue  Impact
 Meeting minutes Distribute minutes to all attendees soon after the meeting, identifying key takeaways and action items. This reminds everyone of what was accomplished and provides momentum for their work going forward.
 Seek feedback Every so often, ask your team what they think about your virtual meetings. What works? What could be improved? This helps them feel involved and engaged, with team workflow, even when working in isolation.


Want to learn more?

Virtual Team Builders offers one-on-one mentoring for virtual managers and leads to support you in honing your virtual leadership skills to drive measurable, sustainable outcomes for your team. We also offer courses on How to Optimize Your Virtual Meetings for your entire team – contact us to get started!


By : Virtual Teambuilders /February 05, 2019 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More

Challenges for Virtual Employees

workplace 1245776 1920 600x242 - Challenges for Virtual Employees

Many people automatically misconstrue virtual teamwork as a simple process because it uses tools that are commonplace and understood, such as telephones and email. On the contrary, despite the increasing trend in virtual working, the majority of virtual teams suffer some form of performance failure. According to the Gartner Group, 50% of virtual teams fail due to a lack of understanding of how to work virtually. More recent reports suggest that failure rates may actually be as high as 82%.

In the 2012 study Untapped Potential of Virtual Teams, Siemens Enterprise Communications designed and executed a research survey generating responses from nine countries, covering North America, Latin America, and Western Europe. The goal of the survey was to find the real-time problems companies struggle with that involve virtual teams and their effect on operations, efficiency, and the overall bottom line. The results show that:

  • Over 40% of virtual team members always or frequently feel frustrated or overwhelmed by the complexity of communications technologies
  • Only 50% experience success in establishing trust and maintaining fluid dialog among team members using the tools at their disposal
  • 75% find their team members more likely to get distracted during virtual meetings, and 34% perceive remote team members as slacking off

Another survey showed that only 22% of employees receive training on working in the virtual environment, causing and exacerbating many of the above issues. Lack of face-to-face contact for employees without a solid foundation in working virtually experience productivity impacts in the following areas:

  • Understanding the full context of what others communicate to them (51%)
  • Managing conflict (48%)
  • Establishing trust and building relationships (45%)

Further, even employees who work virtually only some of the time feel that their in-office colleagues don’t treat them equally:

  • 67% feel that colleagues don’t fight for their priorities
  • 64% say colleagues make changes to a project without warning them
  • 84% allow these concerns to linger for days before addressing them; 47% did so for weeks or more

Yet globally, 85% of employees report working on virtual teams. At the same time, only 22% have received any training geared toward working in that environment. This disparity suggests that many of the people working virtually do not know how to do so effectively, which can lead to dysfunction including:


image008 - Challenges for Virtual Employees

This is most apparent when it comes to rating virtual team leadership: 58% of employees feel that their team leaders are not adequately prepared to manage their team in the virtual environment.

This leads to virtual employees feeling that their managers are out of touch, exacerbating the difficulties in building trust and rapport that are already more pronounced in the virtual environment.

Communication Strategies for Virtual Colleagues

Virtual managers can set their team up to create successful, trusting relationships in the following ways:


Schedule a Virtual Lunch

You use web conferencing tools for business purposes like team meetings – so use them for informal chats as well! Schedule the occasional team lunch for your team to share unstructured time over a meal, even if they aren’t sitting side by side. These informal interactions are essential ingredients to deep, trusted relationship that help your virtual team members to build trust and support one another.


Run Mindful Team Meetings

On virtual teams, those who are out of sight can’t afford to be out of mind. One great tool for making sure everybody feels included is to circulate a “map” showing who is calling in from where. This visual reference helps your team be mindful of who is on the call, even if some colleagues are quieter than others.


Create Human Moments

When your team can’t simply walk down the hall to say hello or go for an impromptu coffee, it’s up to you to build “human moments” in to the workday. Whether it’s opening team meetings with an opportunity for everyone to share a recent success or conducting a team building activity, great virtual team managers are those who know how to make sure it’s never all work and no play.


Curious to learn more? Read our other posts in this series:

By : Virtual Teambuilders /January 21, 2019 /Building a Virtual Team /0 Comment Read More
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    Virtual Team Builders is a training and consulting company that caters to corporations and teams who depend on effective virtual collaboration to succeed. Our training is targeted towards the unique challenges faced by teams operating in a virtual environment; challenges that are present whether members work 90 feet apart or 3000 miles apart.