What It Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting
Under the best of circumstances, virtual meetings tend to be less productive than in-person, or than they should be. Read our guidance for best practices to lead engaging and productive virtual meetings.
Most companies spend thousands of dollars on their annual or quarterly strategy offsite, taking up days of their top people’s time to sit in a room and get nothing done. The presentations are informative, but could have been distributed by email. The networking is valuable, but could have taken place over a single dinner. The breakout activities are fun, but otherwise unproductive. The offsite simply has little impact on the business.
Strategy offsites are successful if clients look back six or twelve months later and say the meeting truly changed the way the business is run.
A strategy offsite’s success is largely determined by what happens before it convenes. Before a meeting, it is critical to clearly and carefully define the objectives of the offsite and determine who should attend. While many clients share similar objectives – prioritizing initiatives, allocating resources, solving a challenging cross-functional problem, identifying new opportunities – no meeting is exactly the same.
Watch Bob Frisch, Managing Partner, explain the best way to start planning a strategy offsite.
Once the objectives are clear, opinions of the participants are gathered to understand their points of view on key issues, options, or actions to take. This data helps determine the conversations that must take place and structure an agenda around them. Based on the agenda, session content, such as presentation slides and business cases, is developed, and a focused pre-read is distributed to get attendees thinking about the topics to be discussed.
In the session, the conversation, process and content are kept in balance using innovative tools and frameworks tailored to the client. This approach ensures the meeting achieves its objectives and attendees remain engaged. At the end of the session, clear action items, accountabilities, and the process for ensuring follow-through are agreed upon. These outcomes are included in the meeting documentation, which is distributed shortly after the offsite.
To learn more about our expertise, read our article “Off-sites That Work“, Harvard Business Review’s only full article on the topic.
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Social distancing and travel restrictions have made it difficult, if not impossible, for organizations convene in person. Some controversial conversations need to be had now more than ever, so we need to learn how to do them virtually.
Doing business on Zoom, WebEx, Teams and the like presents many challenges, but what’s been overlooked is that these virtual platforms also give managers an extraordinary set of “superpowers”: the ability to do things in meetings that were either unthinkable or enormously challenging in the old days of conference tables and flip charts.