Last year we ran a quick poll and found that fewer than 30% of research teams work all in the same office. And even for those who have the luxury of a single-location team, we still have to deal with far-flung vendors and business partners, which can only mean one thing: dependence on the teleconference. Check out your calendar and tell me, how many planners include dial-in instructions? For me, it’s almost all of them (“Welcome to Corporate Executive Board Conferencing; please enter your passcode…”)
On HBR.com, consultant Keith Ferrazzi recently outlined the benefits of virtual meetings, noting that they have the potential to be more effective than in-person meetings. To improve these multi-location meetings, the he offers a few tips:
- Video, don’t just tele-using video is the best way to ensure participants are engaged, and it helps participants read each other—always a benefit to making actual progress in a meeting.
- Formalize catch-up-reserving the first few minutes to talk about what’s going on in the participants’ lives will break the ice and make folks feel more connected to each other.
- Assign tasks-making sure you formalize a minutes-takers, Q&A manager, white board guru, etc., will ensure folks stay engaged.
- Banish “mute”-unless they’re on a train or airport, a little background noise proves that participants are paying attention and not multi-tasking during the meeting.
- Penalize multi-taskers-don’t just discourage folks from checking email or working on something else while in a meeting, institute a multi-tasking fine jar or chore wheel.
Come to think of it, I’d like to institute this last rule for in-person meetings too. Teri, if you check that phone while we’re in this meeting you’ll be on whiteboard wipe-down duty for a week!
- Manage Dispersed or Virtual Teams
- Managing Offshore Research Teams
- Communication and Consultation Resources