If you only read one thing this week…

Making long distance meetings more enjoyable! by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 14, 2006, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Articles, If you only have 15 mins, Web sites

Having been in some really frustrating telephone conferences in the past couple of weeks I spent some time looking for tips on how to make these meetings a) more effective b) more enjoyable. While nostalgia for the good old days when meetings were always face-to-face over a cup of tea or coffee, communication was easy, and our inboxes were managable, we have to face the fact that a lot of time is spent on phones and (increasingly) using video or web conferencing technology and figure out how to do it better. I have attached what I found to be the most useful article, a brief 1 1/2 page set of tips of things which are often common sense but often forgotten.

This link will take you to the article Tips for Virtual Meetings.
I found the most useful suggestions to be:

  1. Get on the conference call a little bit early so that there is some time for small talk with the other participants as they arrive (this is important ice-breaking time during face-to-face meetings that doesn't need to go by the wayside in cyberspace!)
  2. Keep the human touch by making introductions and making sure everyone knows why everyone else is attending the meeting.
  3. As facilitator, check in regulary that everyone can hear and that noone is waiting to speak (it can be hard to jump in on a conversation when you aren't in the same room as the facilitator).
  4. Perhaps most importantly is the caution not to create two tiers of participants: those who are in the same room and those who are virtual. This means making sure that either everyone has handouts (that are sent round in advance) or noone does and avoiding in-jokes based on visual clues. I think this is probably the largest complaint I have heard from people who are regular remote attendees.

Another fun resource is Kate Harper's Coaching site , which has resources on virtual meetings. They suggest (tip 4) making a 'virtual map' of who is at the meeting using photographs that allows everyone to visualize the other.

We invite anyone who has had experiences of successful long distance meetings to share tips. Maybe there are a few humourous disasters to be shared out there too!


3 Comments so far
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A thought from our Scotland office

It’s an important topic, as we could do with decreasing the number of flights we make and improving our virtual meetings. I recently calculated my environmental impact, and of course, it’s awful, because of all the flying I do. Environmental impact is partly why I’ve always preferred to get the train between Edinburgh and London. On the other hand, our virtual meetings need a bit of oomph injected to them. At the least a webcam of the rooms talking.

Comment by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

It would be really interesting to get a carbon profile of our travel, and the different options there – let’s see what we can do about getting a webcam link for some conference calls – I agree that it’s difficult to understand what’s going on when you’re calling in.

Comment by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

This page has some useful tips on connecting in remote participants with one or two way video.


Comment by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

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