In today’s fast-paced virtual business world, meetings are a necessary part of collaboration and communication. However, they can often be time-consuming and unproductive, leading to frustration for both organizers and attendees. In this blog post, we’ll discuss various strategies to keep meetings focused and productive, whether they’re conducted through video calls or phone conversations. We’ll also emphasize the importance of knowing your audience and leveraging tools like screen sharing, time management, and agendas to ensure efficient and effective meetings.
Video Meetings vs. Phone Calls
In an age where remote work is becoming increasingly prevalent, video meetings have become invaluable for maintaining face-to-face connections with your team and clients. They offer the advantage of seeing participants’ facial expressions, which helps gauge their level of engagement and identify distractions. Additionally, video meetings can help bridge the gap between remote team members, providing a more personal touch compared to traditional phone calls. Video calls also allow you to screen share if there is information that needs to be reviewed together and may also help hold a client’s or team member’s attention. However, understanding your audience is crucial to the format of each meeting, whether you’re communicating with team members, clients, or colleagues. For some, video calls may be too distracting, and for those who may need to work while on the road between face-to-face meetings or while taxiing the kids from one activity to the next, video calls may not be the best choice. Being able to tailor your communication style, content, and meeting structure to meet the needs of different personalities and scenarios is a huge plus in today’s business world. And knowing your audience and their ideal meeting style helps you hold their attention and keep them engaged throughout the meeting.
One of the most significant challenges in holding productive meetings is managing time effectively. For each meeting, set a definitive start and stop time. Do you need that full hour for a weekly meeting, or would two 30-minute meetings be more efficient? A common approach is to schedule a 40-minute video meeting and a 15-minute end-of-week wrap-up call or Teams chat. For some clients, a shorter call may lead to more focused and productive discussions since both parties are more aware of the time constraint. Shorter, focused meetings can be just as effective as longer ones. Whether you schedule a 15-minute check-in call or a one-hour video call, pay attention to the clock! Your time is as valuable as your clients’ and team members’ time. By setting and adhering to time limits, you can enhance the efficiency of your meetings and holding those boundaries will reinforce to your clients and team members that you value and respect their time.
Create an Agenda and Provide All Meeting Materials in Advance
To streamline meetings, send attendees all the materials for the meeting beforehand. This allows them to prepare in advance and gives them a chance to jot down any questions, concerns, or additional information they may want to share during the meeting. By creating an agenda for your meeting in advance, you are taking a fundamental step toward maintaining focus and guiding the direction of the meeting. The agenda should outline the topics to be discussed, provide a clear plan for the meeting, and will allow the meeting leader to present the information more precisely. This not only improves efficiency but also demonstrates your preparation and dedication to the meeting’s success. Of course, even with a well-prepared agenda, participants may go on tangents or engage in side conversations. Keeping everyone on track and focused can be one of the most challenging aspects of facilitating meetings. If you find yourself in this situation, politely redirect the discussion with a sentence like, “Can we address this after the meeting?” or “Could you email me the details for further consideration?” This will maintain the meeting’s focus without causing unnecessary disruptions or hurt feelings.
Key Points: Elevate Your Message
In addition to an agenda, prepare a few key points to convey during the meeting. Consider the ideas you want to raise, challenges that need addressing, individuals deserving recognition, and questions for group discussion. These key points add value and ensure your message is effectively communicated. They also help to elevate engagement in the group and participation among attendees. If your timeline allows, it may also be beneficial to reserve ten to fifteen minutes at the end of the meeting for questions and concerns that may arise during the meeting. Allowing time for feedback from participants can also provide the meeting leader with valuable information they can carry into future meetings.
Mastering the art of focused and productive meetings is a valuable skill in today’s business environment. By leveraging video meetings while using screen sharing judiciously, understanding your audience, managing time effectively, providing materials in advance including clear agendas, and elevating your message with additional ideas, questions, and feedback, you can ensure that your meetings are a time-efficient and productive endeavor. Remember, productive meetings lead to better collaboration and ultimately contribute to the success of your team or organization.
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