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5 min.

Leadership | Virtual meetings

Meeting by mouse click. Conduct results-oriented telephone and video conferences.

from Sabine Walter, Head of netzwerk managementberatung | coaching

Corona requires more than before. What used to be a marathon of consecutive meetings is now a marathon. A meeting marathon - only digital. Telephone and video conferences offer the opportunity to get to the point more quickly. The prerequisite for this is that they are conducted correctly. Here are some tips on how to conduct meetings in a results-orientated and successful manner.


Basics of productive meetings

Preparing the content of meetings - face-to-face meetings and digital meetings - are the same. The following questions help:

  • What result do I want to have at the end of the meeting?
  • Who do I need for this?
  • How long will it take us?
  • What do participants need in advance to come to the meeting well prepared and to support me in achieving my outcome?

Appointment invitations should contain the information and documents that invitees need to prepare for the appointment and help you achieve the desired outcome. Part of the invitation should be:

  • Topic and the desired result
  • Time frame and the link to the virtual meeting room, the password if applicable.
  • Agenda
  • Time per agenda item with responsible person

Formulate the agenda points in the form of open questions, such as "How do we manage to learn from the current situation?", "What do we have to do to still complete the project on schedule?". Then the subconscious of the participants is already thinking about answers, even if the participants are not actively preparing for the meeting.

Preparation - focus on results

Less is more - with participants and time

The Complexity of meetings and the accompanying difficulty of controlling them - whether face-to-face meetings or digital meetings. essentially depends on the number of participants. In order to stay in the lead during meetings on digital platforms and to ensure that all participants have their say, you should pay even more attention to this, Invite only those participants who are absolutely necessary for the purpose of the meeting.

When it comes to the time frame of virtual meetings, you should not exceed 90 minutes - 2 hours at a stretch is the absolute maximum. They are only productive with a group of 3-4 participants.

I recommend that you divide your content agenda into individual agenda items and hold several short meetings - e.g. one per agenda item- than to try to clarify everything at once in a long meeting.


Steering to a result with a clear lead

"He who asks, leads", this proverb says it all when it comes to video and telephone conferencing. Open questions such as: "What? What exactly?" Until when? By whom? How?" open up a discussion. The answers to these questions provide information. Alternative questions limit the scope for answers and lead to a result. "Should we decide on path A or B?" "Do you need a decision by Friday or is it enough until the beginning of next week?" For the alternative questions, you should put the variant you prefer at the end of your question. The closed questions confirm the decision. "Can we stay like this?" "Do you agree?" Closed questions can be answered with "yes" or "no". Therefore, at the end of a meeting or agenda item, you should beto get a clear statement from everyone about the result achieved.

It is important in virtual meetings that you address the people you want to give speaking time to by name.

The name of the person you are talking to also helps you to interrupt a frequent speaker or to get back to the thread.when this has been left. After the name of your interlocutor, repeat his or her key statement in your own words and then continue. An example: "Frank, it is important to you that we clarify by the end of the week (paraphrase of what was said) ..... What do we still need for this from the others' point of view? (Continue and open for others).

Interim summaries are very important in all meetings. In virtual meetings they become even more important. They help to structure the meeting and to record interim results. You can download the interim summaries as Result protocol directly in a document and Share your screen with the other participants. This ensures that no information is lost. You can send the minutes of the entire meeting by e-mail or store them in a defined folder immediately after the meeting.

Planning meetings and breaks

It is important to schedule breaks between the various digital meetings. I recommend 10 - 20 minutes - depending on the length of the meetings that take place. Everyone who receives a meeting invitation should actively mark these breaks in their own calendar before and after a meeting.

So that every participant has a chance to be on time, it is advisable to consider the following in the meeting culture of a company:

  • Meetings start and end on time
  • Meetings always start on the hour or half hour
  • Meetings always end quarter to or quarter past the hour

. This automatically prevents appointment from bordering on appointment.


Virtual meetings require even more discipline and leadership to be productive

Most of the rules of successful meeting techniques apply equally to face-to-face meetings and to meetings via digital media. Nevertheless, there are some things that need to be considered even more:

  • Fewer participants
  • slimmed-down agenda
  • Shorter meeting duration with planned breaks between meetings
  • Strong leadership via questions coupled with direct address by name
  • Paraphrasing the speeches
  • More intermediate summaries in conjunction with direct logging

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