Do you find meetings to be the best use of your time? Or are they merely not the time when you’re most productive? With the ongoing situation around the world today, more people are working from home due to COVID-19. Though working from home has its pros and cons, individuals need to communicate regularly. An effective meetings checklist is helpful when it comes to conducting meetings at home. If it’s more virtual meetings, they should be held to the same standard as office-setting meetings.
Effective meetings checklist
In a previous post, I’ve written about how to run productive work meetings. For many people, meetings aren’t the best use of their time if not appropriately planned. If there’s no clear plan on taking action, it’s easy to get off-topic. I’ve sat in meetings where they were too long and had nothing to do with me. When it comes to virtual meetings at home, the same thinking should be kept in mind as a regular in-office meeting.
Many people today will be working from home for quite some time. It’s easy to get distracted and do things you usually wouldn’t do at the office. But if you need to communicate with the people you work with, virtual meetings should be appropriately used to make the most out of your time working. For the remainder of this post, I will lay out a simple checklist to make virtual meetings work while you’re at home. These checkpoints include:
1.) Don’t kickoff calls at the top of the hour
2.) Starting sessions on a positive note
3.) Making sure everyone participates
4.) Making your meetings consistent
5.) Wrapping up the right way: Use the “peak-end rule”
Effective meetings checklist
Number 1: Don’t kickoff calls right at the top of the hour
Sometimes when a meeting starts at the exact minute, not everyone is logged on or present for the session. It may be useful to start on time, but you always have those latecomers popping in a couple of minutes late. Also, there’s still going to be connection issues if people have problems with their internet. Slow connection or response times are a downside to having virtual meetings. So instead of kicking off at the top of the hour, aim to start 10-15 minutes once everybody is present.
How I go about with start times
For myself, I’m somebody who’s a stickler when starting on time. But not everybody has that kind of discipline, whether that’s for office or home meetings. Whenever I take part in webinars, I make sure to log on five-ten minutes earlier. This approach helps me make sure I don’t have any connectivity issues on my end. If I conducted virtual meetings or webinars, I would be kind to wait about five minutes for everybody to get online. Nothing will be perfect, but I’m reasonable enough to understand those issues.
Number 2: Begin meetings on a positive note
If you’re running the meeting, make sure to begin on a lighter, positive note. You can’t assume everybody will be in the same mood at the time. Ask a fun question, or talk about a win you accomplished within the past week. Starting on a positive note can serve two functions: they can broaden our perspective, and build social connections and features. These functions can help us develop innovative ideas and prepare us to solve challenges.
Apply the lit-match technique
As a coordinator, practice going around the virtual meeting and have each person give a quick response. It can be a funny story or a small win within the past week. To make it short, you can use something such as the lit-match technique. Think about not wanting to burn your fingers, so keep it quick and simple whenever possible.
Number 3: Make sure everyone participates
One of the keys to productive meetings is getting full participation. Maybe not in all cases, but sessions are better when every participant engages and gets their say. If you’re leading the meeting, you shouldn’t have to do all the talking. Making sure to find that balance where people take turns will give coordinators less work. It can also save time if you need a break from talking as well.
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Meetings where I use to work
In a previous job I had, one of the managers implemented a practice of having everyone participate in the meetings. When I sat in one of those meetings, he made it clear that he wanted everyone to contribute to that meeting. He was like, “Everybody needs to contribute and say something at some point.” Not in a wrong way, but I think his goal was to challenge my coworkers and me to think creatively. It was right in a way to start a good dialogue of solving severe problems.
Number 4: Stay consistent with regular meetings
Similar to what people would do at the office, keep sessions a regular part of your work schedule. I know some people get confused if working from home means no meetings at all. If you need to communicate with coworkers and employees regularly, take advantage of the virtual meetings at home. Even if it’s for a half-hour weekly or every other week, keep on it so all teams can be on the same page.
With what’s taken place in the last several weeks, it’s making some adjustments to having virtual meetings at home. For those who are accustomed to working in an office environment, it will take some time to get used to working at home. But if you can’t have your usual one-hour meetings at home, it’s ok to shorten them to a half-hour a week. Or do a couple of 15-minute sessions throughout the week. Whatever works best for your team, make sure that everyone can get on the same board while staying on track.
Number 5: Wrap up meetings on using the “peak-end rule”
Something I’ve never heard of until recently is a technique called the “peak-end rule.” Developed by economist Daniel Kahneman, people are more likely to remember and judge an experience by its “peak” and its end. You want to start a meeting on a positive note, so you want to use the same rule for ending a session. You want your team to feel energetic and ready to move forward with their progress.
When wrapping up a virtual meeting, be sure to leave the last five-ten minutes to review any action items. Also, use that time to apply the lit-match technique. You can permit your team to give any rapid responses. For instance, you can ask, “What one thing you took away from this call? Or what are you most excited about going forward?” Or, you can use that moment to recognize a team member for their contributions. Either way, you always want to wrap up a virtual meeting on a positive note.
When times are uncertain, such as now (early 2020), we need to have backup plans such as holding virtual meetings. We have to move forward with business, right? One of the best parts of virtual meetings is avoiding further isolation from the people we work with. Most of us can agree some communication and accountability is needed. Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you can’t have meetings at all. With the technology that’s available today, it’s more accessible to do things at home, such as virtual meetings. If you can conduct virtual meetings the proper way, it can be similar to holding meetings at the office.
Do you currently work at home? If so, do you regularly have virtual meetings with your team?
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Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.