6 Ways to Make Sure People Are Listening in Your Virtual Meetings

Feb 3, 2014 by Tricia Harris in leadership & facilitation, remote work (2 minute read)

Virtual meetings with distributed teams

Did you know the average manager spends 30% of their time in meetings? And, research shows that 46% of meetings result in no action.

But what if you could save time and get more done? What if you and your coworkers could actually say, "that was a great meeting?"

When you have an in-person meeting, you can tell when people are engaged. However, when you have virtual meetings with a team it's more difficult - and keeping people's attention is critical.

Yet, I'll bet most of the people attending your meetings are not paying attention. This is one of the reasons (out of many) that projects aren’t getting finished, meetings go long, and you have to have more of them to accomplish your goals.

Bottom line: When you get people to pay attention, you get more done - faster!

But how, you say? Below are a few easy rules to make it happen:

1) Plan for engagement. Have some discipline - build out your agenda and send it out ahead of time. Think of creative ways to keep everyone interested in the subject. If you can't think of what will be on the agenda, then don't have the meeting.

2) Facilitate. No, I mean really facilitate. Watch the time. Politely redirect those who have meandered off the beaten path. Effective meeting facilitation is all about sticking to the subject and keep things moving so people don't start getting annoyed.

3) Try a round robin (or two). A round robin is a technique in which everyone takes a turn. This can be effective because everyone must contribute. You can have multiple round robins in one meeting - ask everyone their opinion on decisions to keep them on their toes.

4) Ask a direct question. If you don't think someone is paying attention, then ask their opinion on the topic you're discussing. You don't have to be rude, but some people need that little extra nudge to keep focused.

5) Rotate leaders. This forces people to see the other side of the fence. Be sure to tell them how vital their role is - as in "we're all depending on you to get us out of these meetings earlier (to try that new sushi place, to get to happy hour earlier, to get more work done...)." Send them to this blog post. Rotate note takers, too - when someone is responsible for documenting, they tend to pay attention.

6) Meet more often than once a week. It sounds contradictory to meet more, but it's not. The more frequent remote teams interact, the more engaged they are. Our team at Lucid meets from remote locations twice a week, and we get through our meetings quickly -- in under 30 minutes each. Oh, and we get a LOT done. We may make meeting software, but we certainly don't sit in meetings all day.

There you have it - 6 methods to make sure people are listening in your virtual meetings. Not only that, but when people are truly engaged in your meetings, you'll have better meeting engagement, better outcomes, and more buy-in.

Related Download

The Cross-Functional Team Weekly Update Meeting Facilitator's GuideCross-Functional-Weekly-Facilitators-Guide.png

This 10-page Facilitator's PDF Guide includes: 

  • When to use this template, and when to avoid it
  • Step-by-Step Instructions for before, during, and after the meeting
  • Common Problems and How to Solve Them
  • Resource Guide  

 

Get the Guidebook

 

 

Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc



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