coronavirus operations WFH

Remote meetings in the time of corona

Remote meetings can be challenging. But these days, remote meetings are tough.

Usually the main challenge is to keep people focused and interested. Nowadays, we need to add the self-isolation conditions to it. 

And this is not about tools. What you need are great facilitators who can keep the focus and energize everybody; people who understand the need for flexibility and are ready to pay extra attention to make meetings a success; people with a great sense of humour able to make everything lighter.

Tips for you, facilitator

Before the meeting – plan it well! 

  • Choose the time when the meeting is happening carefully, and I am not talking only about time zones. We are all home (alone or with our families), all day. Check in advance when it is the best time for everybody
  • Think about the duration, you can always schedule a second one; longer than 1 hour makes no sense
  • Limit number of attendants
  • Send a clear agenda and information in advance: specify topics to cover, needed preparations and clear goals for the meeting
  • Set a dial-in option, just in case internet is funny or video is just not an option

During the meeting – focus!

  • Start with 10 minutes to catch up: very much needed!
    • If required, do a quick round to introduce everybody
    • Prepare an icebreaker to start! Maybe ask everybody to share their view, their workplace; or prepare a nice fun game: “who would you choose to be self-isolated with?” (I know mine!)
  • Agree on the meeting etiquette:
    • Hands off the keyboard! 
    • Close all open windows, put your phone away and turn notifications off
    • Commitment from everybody to stay focus
    • Agree how to “raise hands” to talk
  • You may have some last-minute cancellations. Why don’t you record the meeting so they can listen to it later?
  • Start explaining the focus and goals of the meeting
  • Pulse the room constantly to increase participation from all attendants:
    • Avoid open questions and instead ask questions directly, say people’s names
    • Pay special attention to the quiet ones

After the meeting – follow up!

  • Send a quick retro survey asking what worked and what did not work. Keep on improving and share your findings
  • Send follow up information with next steps, action items and due dates
  • Check individually with the ones participating less or struggling the most what can be done to make it easier next time
  • Say thanks to everybody
  • If there are a lot of tech issues, raise to the management team the option of the company covering internet/phone upgrades during these times, investing on new communication tools, etc.

For you, attending a meeting

Before the meeting – prepare!

  • Read the agenda
  • Go to the quieter possible place. Even if it is the toilet, just turn the video off and explain why

During the meeting – focus!

  • Focus on the meeting (stop checking your email, you will have time for that later, you know that)
  • Mute yourself when not talking
  • Speak slowly and make sure you are close to the microphone. Pay extra attention to how you communicate
  • Listen and let others talk
  • If internet is not working as expected, take video out and/or dial in
  • Follow the meeting etiquette points agreed

After the meeting – say thanks!

We will all get frustrated, but we can all benefit from applying compassion during this time. It really works.

  • Be patient, it will get better. Contribute sending feedback and thinking together about improvements
  • Be kind. Not everybody is used to remote meetings. If you see someone struggling with it, schedule some time after the meeting to go over the whole thing together 
  • Empathise. People are home alone or with other family members. It is not easy
  • Be present, more than ever
  • and smile