Meeting overload? Top tips to remote meetings

The Drum 08 Apr 2020 02:09
By Steve Chambers-08 April 2020 15:09pm

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Meeting overload? Top tips to remote meetings

In today’s world of remote working, it is vital that we make virtual meetings work for us. We are lucky to have platforms that help us maintain human connections, but somehow, for me, remote working has turned into almost back-to-back meetings. Last week, I estimated that I had little more than 20% of my time to work on actual tasks and projects.

We all need quality time to work and the space for innovative thinking, brainstorming or just to get away from the desk to our statutory once-a-day exercise outside. I strive to block off chunks of my work calendar so as not to allow anyone to slip in yet another meeting… but sometimes there is little choice but to move that ring-fenced time for my own work to attend yet another meeting.

Do you really need a meeting?

If the answer to this question is yes, be mindful of who needs to be there. Ensure your agenda is organised so that attendees who only need minimal involvement can leave as soon as their part is over whenever possible.

Keep meetings short: change the default to 25 and 50 minutes

Strive to start and finish on time and consider using a timer to help you keep it on track.

Start each meeting with an outline of your agenda (“This meeting is about…”) and desired objectives or outcomes (“What I’d like for us to accomplish is…”).

  • Introduce everyone during the meeting, and give everyone a chance to contribute
  • Give people the chance to leave the meeting before it starts if they have learned from the summary that they don't need to be involved
  • Let people know they're free to leave as soon as their contribution is complete
  • Be present—mute your notifications, put down your phone, limit your distractions

Be really clear about why everyone is in the session and what they’re being asked to contribute and how. Finish the session with a list of agreed action items against names to send following the meeting. To help ensure the conversation keeps moving, consider recording the session to so participants have the assurance they can play back the meeting to help them fill in notes later.

Sometimes teams set up calendar invites to request collaborative sessions so that time can be protected. That makes sense, and can be a good use of the Outlook calendar function, but it’s important to note that these sessions have slightly different goals and outcomes than a standard meeting.

What next?

Steve Chambers, director of information systems and security, RAPP

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Steve ChambersRAPP
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