Permission – the secret of better webmeetings

Jan 14 2014 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

Think about really good team meetings you've attended. The meeting leader doesn't do everything, do they? Surely you don't have to present, hook up the computer, hand out copies, write on the board, take notes for the participants, serve the doughnuts and pour the coffee. (I'm assuming. If you are doing all those things, you need to think seriously about your delegation skills).

What about virtual meetings? Do you spend an inordinate amount of time emailing things out before the meeting starts? Do you leave the meeting while it's going on to send something to the team (and having them leave the meeting to fetch it), then send them notes and action items after? Odds are, it's not that they can't be bothered doing this for themselves, it's that you won't let them.

In a physical meeting, you ask for help. More likely, the folks around the table voluntarily take on those piddling little tasks so the meeting doesn't get bogged down. Those little interactions can tell you a lot about the group. Are they willing to lend a hand? Are they proactive or passive? Do they look like they even care?

You'll notice as you drill down into the various features of webmeetings that you find tools that make it easy to replicate, maybe even improve on, the in-room, traditional meeting experience. If you want to make the information you and your folks will present easily available and easy to use, you want to think about the various ways to use the tool in as collaborative a fashion as possible. This starts with setting permissions in your web platform; what people are allowed to do and banned from doing.

For example, when a whiteboard has been created, do they have the permission to click on it and save it to their computer right away, or do you have to send it after the meeting as an email attachment? One of these is infinitely more effective.

Remember when, in traditional meetings, you had to print out umpteen copies of your PowerPoint file for everyone, just in case someone needed to make notes? The number of trees and minutes wasted is pretty depressing. What if people were able to simply print the slides if they want them, and not worry about it if they don't? That's a simple matter of setting permissions. You assume they can decide what they need to do, and allow them to do it.

All good webmeeting platforms allow you to set permissions for what attendees can, and can't, do while they're online. Some of the most common activities you might consider are:

  • Joining the meeting early, rather than wait to be "let in"
  • Upload documents on their own. This is particularly handy if you have multiple presenters and don't want to waste time between speakers
  • Save whiteboards and shared documents to their own computers, where they want them., when they need them
  • Print what they need printed

By giving people the ability to do all this on their own, you also can hold them accountable for taking advantage of the tools. Let's say you get an email asking you to send them a copy of the whiteboard with all the action items on it. This is a great opportunity to coach them on taking responsibility for their own information and not wasting your time. Or, you can just re-send the document in an email and know it'll happen again next time.

Give your people permission to maximize what webmeetings and collaboration tools can do if you expect them to use them to the maximum.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.