Executives spend 18 of their 55-hour workweek in meetings, according to the “Executive Time Use Project,” by the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School.
No surprise there.
But the survey did reveal something less expected: Execs are more often meeting virtually, through instant messaging, video chat and other tools.
The format and tools used during a virtual meeting will depend on the goals of the meeting.
If, for example, your boss wants to get an accurate read on the group’s reactions to a new idea, a video call might be best, since participants cannot simply “mute” their responses.
Organize a virtual meeting, and prepare participants to get the most out of one, using the following checklist:
√ Where will you hold the meeting? Usually a conference room, outfitted with the right technology, will be best for on-site participants.
√ Which meeting platform will work best? To determine the platform, consider the needs of the meeting. Will attendees need to see a live desktop, a slide deck or visual of the presenter?
Also, consider the limits of the meeting tools. For example, if 14 participants are attending virtually, you may not be able to use WebEx’s standard meeting package, which allows for only eight participants.
√ What kind of access will remote attendees need? Do they simply need a phone line? If, for example, the presenter is sharing his desktop via GoToMeeting, participants will need to have access to an Internet connection at the time of the meeting.
√ How will remote attendees “dial in”? The answer will depend on what platform you’re using for the meeting.
Tip: Ask attendees to log in five minutes early, so you have time to resolve any technical issues.
√ Does the virtual meeting need to be recorded for people who can’t attend? If so, consider using a platform like WebEx, which has a “record” feature that captures conversation and any documents presented.
√ Do you see any potential roadblocks? If participants need to install a plug-in before logging on, for example, better to solve that problem before the meeting starts.
√ Are attendees clear on their roles? Make sure presenters, time-keepers and minute-takers are aware of their responsibilities.
Tip: Designate a meeting coordinator to be available during the meeting to troubleshoot any problems, such as adjusting microphones or refreshing slide screens.
√ What do participants need in advance? For example, will the presenter unveil his desktop live during the meeting, or would he like to send participants a copy of the material, such as a PowerPoint presentation, ahead of time, so they can prepare?
√ Was it a good experience? Follow up with remote participants to see if it was a positive experience and identify any problems that you can correct for your next virtual meeting.
— Adapted from “How to embrace remote meetings,” Gary Swart, GigaOM.
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