Virtual Meetings: Preparing for the New Normal in Communication

This post was written by Kendra Raguckas, Director of Instructional Design & Technology at The Latimer Group.

Like many of you, during this time of uncertainty, The Latimer Group is working remotely. This is a new normal for most of our team and there has been some adjustment to our communication as we transition to virtual meetings. As we discuss in detail in our workshops, preparation is the key to success especially when communicating virtually. However, we are all busier than ever working quickly to adjust to our current “normal” and we don’t have a lot of time to spare. With this preparation checklist, we are confident that you can prepare quickly and still ensure your virtual meeting is engaging and effective.

Preparation Checklist

  1. Goal – You cannot achieve outcomes or clarity in your message if you are unsure of what you are trying to accomplish. Clearly identifying your goal is the first step to achieving it.
  2. Communication Channel –While working remotely, it can be easy to retreat and only communicate through email when necessary. We encourage you to engage with your team more to keep the collaboration intact. However, that does not mean every communication has to be a meeting. Engage more while not over-doing it.
  3. Virtual Environment – Are you unsure what virtual meeting options are available to you? If so, reach out to your IT folks and ask. Many organizations now have video meeting options like Skype, Zoom, or WebEx. These not only allow video, but they also provide screen sharing so you can display documents or presentations. Whenever possible encourage video so you can connect with your colleagues and encourage more engagement.
  4. Agenda – The first step in increasing inclusion and engagement in your virtual meeting is creating a clear and detailed agenda. Don’t just include the meeting topics but take it a step further by identifying who will present each topic, a realistic timeframe for the topic, and what the role of the audience is (do they need to make a decision, agree to a plan, or provide confirmation on an update). Letting the audience know ahead of time what is expected of them will help them stay engaged and they will be more likely to participate if they are prepared.
  5. Engagement & Inclusion – Be honest – have you ever multi-tasked during a virtual meeting? For myself, and I am sure most of you, the answer is yes. It is much easier to tune out and multi-task during a virtual meeting for obvious reasons. Knowing that ahead of time puts you in a better position to prepare for different ways to include your audience. Where can you ask open ended questions, include polls, or ask for personal experiences? Plan this ahead of time so you are not thinking on the spot.

Preparation is the key to success and these simple effective steps will help you have more productive and engaging virtual meetings.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Kendra Raguckas

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.