Managing Virtual Team Meetings
10 Items to Include on your Virtual Team “Kick-Off” Meeting Agenda
When you bring your virtual team together for the first time, start off with a kick-off or project initiation meeting. If you don’t have the resources to bring your team together for an in-person, face-to-face meeting then host the kick-off meeting face-to-face via video conferencing.
Be enthusiastic, smile and make eye contact with your team. Let them see you in your online work environment. Host the online “kick-off “meeting with a video conferencing platform that allows all team members to interact and see each other face-to-face. Google Hangouts is an excellent platform for small to medium online businesses. Meeting, seeing each other and responding to the non-verbal communications via camera will help your online team to bond quicker.
Come prepared with an agenda and some virtual team ice-breakers to set the scene for your online kick-off meeting. Record the meeting so it can be saved and shared with new virtual team members as they come on board with the team at a later date.
Things to cover in your virtual team “kick-off “ meeting include …
- Team vision, goals and objectives.
- Virtual Team Introductions – Online Team Members and Stakeholders. Get creative and have fun with this one. If it is appropriate for your virtual team you could have each person prepare a 30-60sec video introduction of themselves to share with the rest of the team
- Clear outline of Virtual Team role expectations and lines of communications
- Discuss the virtual team diversity and the gains associated with the online team diversity
- Facilitate an open discussion about the unique challenges a virtual team faces working together and how to overcome the challenges. Encourage each virtual team member to contribute to the session. Ask them to share the challenges they have faced as a virtual team member and possible suggestions to overcome the challenges.
- Virtual Team Communication Standards. Communication needs special attention in a virtual team. Discuss solutions to time zone and language differences. Set response standards in place and be clear about expectations. When will the team meet? When will each team member be available online? What platforms will be used to communicate? Etc.
- Virtual Team Systems, Standards, Tools and Processes to be used in achieving the team goals. Document management, team collaboration tools and online systems need to be discussed here. You may want to give a brief overview at the meeting, then arrange a “virtual tour” of your systems and tools on a separate occasion based on the specific team needs. If you run the “virtual tour” live be sure to video the session and store in in your collaboration portal for others to access.
- Virtual Team Reward and Recognition Program. It’s easy for virtual workers to feel isolated and unsupported. Have a program place that rewards individuals and the virtual team as a whole for a job well done.
- Question & Answers
- Set the time for the next virtual team meeting. Regular, well planned and meaningful online meetings will work better than rare, long-winded marathon meetings.
Most virtual team workers I speak to dread showing up for virtual team meetings. Many remote workers are showing up for these meetings outside of usual work hours, perhaps taking time out from family and friends to meet with other team members across the globe. When they show up for these virtual meetings, they want to know that it’s not going to be a waste of their time. When they show up and the virtual team leader isn’t prepared for the meeting, when there is no direction or structure to the meeting and outcomes are never implemented – then pretty soon you’re going to have a very demotivated virtual team.
How do you keep your virtual team members showing up willingly and engaged in your virtual team meetings?
Planning and managing your virtual team meetings is absolutely imperative to your virtual team success. Tony Buzan, the creator of Mind Mapping shows how meetings can be managed using iMindMap to be more effective – saving time by helping team leaders reach decisions, record and implement team actions using colour and creativity.
Plan your virtual meeting agenda in advance
To keep your virtual team engaged and alert have your meeting agenda mapped out on screen. Get creative and use color coding to plan your agenda. By planning your agenda, you are giving your virtual meeting a clear focus, not only for yourself as the meeting leader, but for the attendees as well. With your agenda mapped out in front of you, it is more likely that your virtual meeting will stay on track (which can be a challenge for virtual teams meeting online from various locations all around the world). The radiant layout of a Mind Map gives you a pre-structured framework, allowing you to freely explore and capture your ideas without getting lost in the detail.
Keep your virtual team engaged in the meeting
There is nothing worse than showing up for a virtual meeting when the chairperson or virtual team leader is not motivated and prepared for the meeting. Remember, some of your virtual team workers may be linking in at very “ungodly” times due to timezone differences. You want all your virtual team members to want to show up for the virtual meeting, ready to contribute and ready to be engaged in the meeting. Make a Mind Map of what the meeting attendees need to prepare beforehand, and share it with them prior to the meeting. Mind Maps only include keywords, so the important ideas are conveyed and relevant associations occur instantly.
Keep track of implementation actions
During the virtual meeting, refer to the Mind Map agenda and simply build upon this to capture the minutes. This will give your meeting a solid framework you can refer to, to ensure that all points are covered. For every topic you discuss, add a branch for each action point to highlight what needs to be done to achieve the objective. Because of the radiating layout, you can keep adding details to your Mind Map without losing a coherent structure. Once you have added all of the details to your map, share it with the relevant parties to ensure that plans, decisions and actions are clearly communicated and acted upon.
When your virtual team meet together are they engaged, excited and taking the initiative to have an active share in the meeting OR are your virtual team meetings dominated by a few strong team members leaving the rest to quietly drift off in the online world?
Keeping your virtual team excited and engaged during your virtual team meetings can be achieved. With a little thought and planning you can get more out of your virtual team meetings – they can be productive, exciting and can be a great way to build strong virtual team purpose and relationship.
Here are three virtual team meeting tips to incorporate into your overall virtual team building strategy:
Use Quick Virtual Team Building Exercises to bring the team together
Arrive 10-15 mins before the start of the scheduled virtual team meeting and have some fun virtual team ice-breakers to start the meeting off. This will help your team feel positive about showing up for the meeting. Remember your virtual team members may be logging on from different timezones (some times not so conducive to creative thinking) and will need extra incentive to show up for meetings.
John Chen author of 50 Digital Team-Building Games: Fast, Fun Meeting Openers, Group Activities and Adventures using Social Media, Smart Phones, GPS, Tablets, and More recommends an excellent quick and easy virtual team building game called “Where in the World Whiteboarding”. It’s a brilliant virtual ice-breaker game for virtual teams – especially global teams that are logging on from different parts of the world.
5 easy ideas to make your virtual meetings inspiring and productive
Virtual Teams, as wonderful as they are, present you with one very special challenge to overcome. Without a face-to-face social aspect of a typical work environment, you can lose the personal and visual connections that are so powerful in keeping a team motivated and performing at its best.
Like many online entrepreneurs you may be having weekly virtual meetings to keep connected with your team. Congratulations for committing to your virtual team productivity. Do you think your team is inspired and motivated by that virtual meeting? If yes, then great – but the sad truth is, it is quite likely that at least one person on your team likely DREADS having that meeting (that person could be you)!
So what can you do to make sure your virtual team meetings continue to inspire your virtual team to achieve great things? Here are 5 ideas you can start using right away… Continue reading