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Tips for running effective remote meetings

Editor’s note: Things are getting a little crazy right now with the rapid spread of COVID-19 (aka coronavirus). Companies across the globe are encouraging their employees to work from home and self-isolate. We strongly agree with these measures! We want to help you figure out the best ways to communicate and connect remotely. A big part of that is keeping your usual meeting rhythms. Read on to learn some tips on how to run effective remote team meetings and how Tadum can help. 

The meeting life-cycle

All meetings have a three-part life-cycle: 

  1. Before: Meeting preparation. Included preparing and sending out an agenda and establishing and enforcing meeting guidelines.

  2. During: The meeting itself. Includes keeping your team engaged and keeping a history of the discussion and decisions with meeting minutes.

  3. After: Follow-up practices. Includes establishing when the next meeting is and ensuring accountability between meetings.

Within this life-cycle, remote meetings present their own set of challenges:

The guide below will give you some best practices and tools to help overcome these challenges.

 


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Before: How to establish remote meeting guidelines and prepare for your meeting.

Establish remote meeting guidelines

Your meeting guidelines give your team everything they need to know about how to manage and communicate in a virtual space. Guidelines include:
 

  1. Choose the right communication tools. You will want software that helps you easily share the agenda and gives you a framework to take useful meeting minutes. Optionally, you may also want video conferencing, since it can make a big difference to see everyone’s faces.
     
  2. Check that all technology works before the meeting. No one wants to sit around wasting time while you try to get your technology to work. Schedule a few minutes prior to the meeting to get all of your technology set up and working.
     
  3. Get everyone to introduce themselves before the meeting starts. It might be hard to tell who is participating in the meeting, especially if it is not a video conference. Let everyone take a moment to introduce themselves.
     
  4. Ask that everyone be focussed and respectful. These might seem obvious but a reminder prior to starting the meeting doesn’t hurt. Don’t interrupt when someone is speaking. Mute phones and turn off notifications so they don’t make noise in the background. Don’t work on other tasks. 

Prepare for your remote meeting

Meeting preparation is important for all meetings but even more so for remote meetings where communication breakdowns are even easier. The best way you and your team can prepare for your meeting is to create and send out an agenda at least 24 hours before your meeting. Your agenda should:

How does Tadum help you prepare for your remote meeting?

  1. Automatically sends you an agenda reminder so you don’t forget to prepare the agenda.
     
  2. Gives you our 5 interchangeable agenda sections to create your first meeting template, which then automatically rolls forward to be used again and again.
     
  3. Automatically generates your next meeting agenda with open discussions and todos so they are not forgotten.
     
  4. Encourages everyone to come prepared by giving them real-time access to a shared online agenda.

During: How to keep your team engaged and keep a history of your meetings with meeting minutes.

Engagement

Engagement in meetings is hard enough in-person. Engagement in remote meetings is even harder as you work to overcome the barriers of not being in the same physical space. Some ways to help encourage engagement include:

  1. Build some time for people to chat at the start of the agenda. When you are working remotely, you don’t get the same opportunity to connect like you would in an in-person office. You can even create a formal ‘good news’ section like you would in a Gazelles agenda or the Segue section from a Level 10 Meeting
     
  2. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak. Not everyone will be comfortable speaking up, especially if they have not been involved in many remote meetings. You can intentionally keep track of who is contributing and call on people who are quieter. Alternately do a round-robin style where you give each person a turn to speak on each topic.
     
  3. Ask for feedback. When your meeting is over, ask everyone for feedback to see if there is an opportunity to improve. 

Meeting Minutes 

No one will remember what decisions were made or the relevant parts of a discussion from a meeting that happened 3 weeks ago. They also won't likely remember who said they would do what, and when.

Meeting minutes provide you with a history of your meetings for future reference and also encourage accountability following the meeting (more on this below) by tracking todos.

How does Tadum improve your meeting minutes?

  1. Use your agenda as the framework for taking your meeting minutes. You add comments and change the status of your discussions and todos as you go through your meeting.
     
  2. Automatically save your meeting minutes as read-only when you finish the meeting.
     
  3. Keep all your meeting minutes in one place instead of the black hole of some shared drive.

After: How to keep your team accountable.

Accountability 

It is easy to leave a meeting and immediately forget your todos. It is even easier to forget when you are remote. You are not interacting with people and getting reminders in the same as you would in-person.

To ensure that everyone stays accountable for their todos, you should:

  1. Record meeting minutes with todos or todos that include who is accountable and when it is due.
     
  2. At the end of your meeting ask everyone to say their todos out loud.
     
  3. Schedule your next meeting before you leave so everyone knows when they need to provide an update on their todos.

How does Tadum encourage accountability?

  1. All todos require a person and due date to be assigned to them.
     
  2. All todos have a state of Open, Tabled, or Closed. Open or Tabled todos roll forward with each agenda until they are marked as done. They never get lost or forgotten.
     
  3. Tadum is built for recurring meetings that run on a rhythm. This means you set up your agenda template once and then it rolls forward on the rhythm you set.
     

In these uncertain times, it’s important to find ways to connect and engage with your team. As more and more people shift to working remotely it helps to set them up for success by keeping your regular meeting rhythms, setting guidelines for how to run remote meetings, and using tools like Tadum to support all phases of the meeting cycle.

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