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7 Best Practices To Run Efficient Virtual Meetings

By Team CounterPath
Bad meetings result in low productivity

Team meetings can be a drag

If you work in an office and attend meetings and you’ve never read “Death by Meetings” by Patrick Lencioni, you really should. It’s an entertaining, quick read. Lencioni uses stories, or fables as he calls them, to describe those terrible, energy-draining meetings which we've all experienced. He then breaks down the fundamentals of great meetings and provides solid tactics to turn boring time suckers into energy-producing, focused gatherings.

Meetings can be boring

How you run your meetings and the tools you use matter. Luckily, the core principles of a great meeting align perfectly with how Bria Teams is designed to work.

What makes a great meeting?

One key factor that enables a great meeting is the right amount of drama. Shouting and fist slamming are not ideal for any good interaction, but boredom does not inspire creative, dynamic thinking either. Finding the right balance between the two, identifying a challenging task to discuss, and bringing the right people in to discuss and set a precise goal for your conversation is key. Allocating enough time to doing research for a meeting results in informed thoughts from team members rather than impulsive opinions.

What's the key to a great meeting?

The second key factor is right structure. If you have regular meetings without a clear purpose, your team members will not know if they are debating, voting, brainstorming, weighing in or just listening. If someone is bringing up an idea to see if it has merit to pursue further - they may need some quick reactions from the group to see if it’s worth spending time on. However, if someone has spent months working an idea into a proposal and is bringing it forward for a vote to proceed, they don’t need a brainstorming response. Providing your team with the context on how to respond through structure and preparation are important ways you can set a meeting up for success.

In person meetings are not always feasible, particularly in recent times. As working from home has become more prevalent, the virtual meeting set up is here to stay. Bria Teams offers you all the tools to run virtual meetings seamlessly by streamlining your communications on one platform. So without further ado, here are our 7 best practices for running efficient virtual meetings.

Bria Teams offers tools to run meetings seamlessly

1. Start with clear objectives

It’s important to identify what the meeting is for. We’re all busy people with a lot on our minds. If you’re leading a meeting, or planning one - make sure you give everyone a quick, gentle reminder about the objective of the meeting. If it’s a daily check in, call out individuals who get too deep in a subject. If it’s a monthly strategy meeting, be aware of team members who are listening, but not contributing. The best way to accomplish this is through a clear, concise agenda. List people who are attending, the purpose of the meeting and the payoffs to be covered. Identify those three basic Ps in your agenda.

Start with:

- having a clear facilitator or leader for the meeting

- identifying if you’re covering a new idea and want fresh ideas - if you’re reviewing a document, provide it in advance

- knowing what the ideal outcome would be

You can use Bria Teams to share an agenda in advance, or send it through IM before a meeting to ensure everyone is clear on the type of meeting and its goals.

Bria Teams helps streamline communications

2. Invite intelligently

Think through who needs to be informed of or consulted for a meeting. If you’re reviewing a document, can any of your meeting attendees review the material in advance and provide comments? With Bria Teams presence and instant messaging, you can identify someone who may need to step in and out of a meeting at key decision points. When you need their quick review and opinion, message or call them through, link them to the conversation for a quick summary, collect their input and release them from the meeting. You’ll be surprised at how much people appreciate you respecting their time.

Bria Teams makes meetings more efficient

3. Never run overtime

Your agenda should have the points you’re looking to cover in a meeting, the person leading the conversation on those points and roughly the amount of time you expect to dedicate to those points. If one item on your list should take five minutes, stick to that time frame and schedule a follow up if there is significant discussion around this point. Record the key points in your notes and identify those you’re going to follow up on in another meeting to continue the conversation. If possible, identify the group of people who should follow up on this issue outside of the meeting. Sometimes two people can finish a conversation and update the group with the outcome. If items take less time on your agenda than you expect, end the meeting early. Your team members will appreciate the time they get back. A meeting that covers the schedule efficiently and ends early, always feels better.

Avoid running overtime during meetings

4. Take no hostages

If you’re leading a meeting, then make sure everyone gets a chance to speak. Don’t let one person monopolize the conversation. If someone is talking too much it’s your responsibility to call that person out. You can say something like “We appreciate your input, but we need to hear from others before we can make a decision and move on.” If you have to do this more than once, set clear meeting ground rules as you start, or add them to the agenda and refer back to them.

Ensure everyone's contribution

5. Be focused

We’ve all had those meetings where you get on a conference call or video chat and you spend the first 10 minutes mindlessly chitchatting. When you finally want to get started, it’s hard to gain momentum and move forward.

Everyone who is waiting has likely started checking email, or had some distraction take their attention elsewhere. Using the same technology and setup, whether you’re at the office, at home, or traveling allows you to connect quickly and reliably with robust software. Bria Teams can help get your team working together faster than ever, with a lot more focus. If you have a solid agenda, you can see who should be in the room and use presence to see where they are. You can reach out through IM to ask if they’re joining or if you can begin without them. With the web-based Bria Teams Portal, you can reliably run efficient virtual meetings. 

Be precise during meetings

6. Ban technology or ‘modify’ its use

You can ban technology from the meeting room if everyone is in the same physical space. The goal of removing technology is to keep your focus on the purpose of the meeting. But it is complex to ban technology for others who need it to stay connected, or actually do research during a meeting. Ultimately, technology helps to:

- have teams available for check ins or connected if you’re working from home, or traveling

- raise your hand in a meeting using IM to speak next

- watch for cues that you are interested in speaking to a topic or following up on a point if you’ve got a group of people in a meeting room and a handful of people remote

- add your name to a list, or IM a note if you’d like to speak to the same topic, or branch to a new idea

- and lastly, add links, references, notes to help guide the discussion, support the ideas that everyone is bringing forward in the meeting and direct the meeting

Maintaining the group's attention should be the responsibility of the person setting up the meeting, with the right people, focused on an agenda with a clear objective. If you have that, then the technology in your hands will be used for the right purpose - to conduct effective virtual meetings.

Ensure technology is used for the right purpose during meeetings

7. Follow up

Most things you discuss during a meeting, will likely require action items and a follow up. You can use the Bria Teams' messaging history to pull notes out, identify who from the group was assigned a task, and find a completion date for each action item. You can also use group messaging and integrated file sharing to send out follow up notes to the participants in the conversation, and those who need to be informed or consulted on any outcomes, especially the non-attendees. You should always do this within 24 hours. Bria Teams allows you to do this in minutes, or in real time.

Follow up after each meeting

With a consistent format, virtual meetings can go from boring to energetic with a good use of your teams’ time. To summarize, a great virtual meeting structure is only possible with effective team collaboration.

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Team CounterPath

About Team CounterPath

CounterPath Corporation is a leading provider of innovative desktop and mobile VoIP software products and solutions. The company's product suite includes SIP-based softphones, server based user experience management and UC solutions that enable service providers, enterprises and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to cost-effectively integrate voice, video, presence, Instant Messaging (IM) and collaboration applications into their VoIP offerings and extend functionality across both fixed and mobile networks.