You log in to your call with 30 other colleagues to discuss an issue with an important account. One team member asks, “Do we have an agenda?” The team leader says there is no agenda because there is just one issue to discuss. The meeting proceeds with 3 people talking the entire hour and the other 27 likely on their laptops not paying attention. There is no resolution to the issue during this meeting. Another meeting is scheduled with all 30 participants. Does this sound like your life?
This is a real life scene in many major organizations today. And what is the cost?
The solution: Start every meeting with a clear objective. What are we here to accomplish? Make sure the objective is verbal and stated clearly for everyone. The process of defining the objective clarifies who should be there and the goal of your time together.
An agenda of 3-4 bullet points will work. Ideally, your agenda is developed ahead of time and distributed to all participants so they can join in at relevant topics for them. At a minimum, review the plan, flow or key topics that you will address in the meeting after stating your objective. Even a simple agenda will help to maximize the time of all involved.
So for the next meeting, if you are a virtual meeting participant and there is not a clear objective and high level agenda, how about if you ask for one and firmly recommend that it is developed before moving forward. When you are the virtual team leader, practice simple yet effective meeting techniques that demonstrate leadership.
Virtual work requires more structure, not less.