Why do some online meetings get the job done, while others don't? Sometimes a team can jump on WebEx or GoToMeeting and move your project or team forward while others times they just suck the psychic marrow from everyone's bones. What's the difference?
Any meeting , whether in a conference room or on the web, can be run. The successful meetings are led. All meetings need to be kicked off, managed and eventually wrapped up. There is a huge difference between running a meeting and leading one. That difference can mean the long-term success or failure of your team.
What's the difference?
Meeting runners: Schedule a meeting.
Meeting leaders: Schedule the meeting in a way that helps people come prepared and focused. They let people know in advance the objectives to be gained from the meeting, what should be accomplished during the meeting , what everyone's role will be and how to come prepared.
Meeting runners: Kick off the meeting and run through the agenda in order, often getting the little administrative stuff out of the way first.
Meeting leaders: Start the meeting on time. They focus everyone on the purpose and desired outcome, set groundrules and expectations of all participants. Oh yeah, and they hold people accountable for the results.
Meeting runners: tell people they want input, and let those who want to contribute have their say. Usually it's the same people all the time.
Meeting leaders: Ensure that everyone has an equal chance to contribute. Online this means using every possible tool , like chat or written questions to get quality input. It also means using good facilitation skills and often calling on people who might otherwise remain silent.
Meeting runners: Use the minimum technology possible to "keep things simple".
Meeting leaders: Know the tools at their disposal. They are comfortable with the mechanics and able to make smart choices about which tools will provide the best results. Running a brainstorm? Use the whiteboard, or a Word document to add the critical visual component.
Meeting runners: end the meeting on time and recap action items.
Meeting leaders: document action items and get commitment from the parties involved. They follow up the meeting by making sure everyone knows who is accountable for what. This might be by getting a copy of the white board, recording the meeting or emailing out detailed notes. Most web platforms make it easy to capture real collaboration and share it with the team. It just takes some work.
Running an online meeting is a matter of showing up. Leading one takes forethought, practice and patience, but the results for your team or your project will be worth the effort.