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Why your Zoom Meeting Needs an Agenda

The shift to working from home during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for most. The change was sudden and the circumstances unique. The first few weeks were frantic and hectic. Now, new routines and work processes are being established as we navigate these strange times. New home office spaces have been set up as we all learned the hard way that sitting at the kitchen table is bad for your back. Kids, pets, and/or partners have been wrangled, sometimes with mixed success :). Teams are staying connected via chat apps like Slack, online document sharing, and even virtual after-work (generally!) beers each week. At the forefront of all of this is the use of video conferencing software for our meetings. 

Virtual meetings are the new normal

Zoom has become synonymous with running virtual meetings. There are pictures all over the internet of the standard grid of faces, combined with memes about bad hair, not wearing pants, and lower beauty standards. All joking aside, virtual meetings using online video conferencing is the new normal. Unfortunately, virtual meetings are still running into the normal pitfalls that in-person meetings have that waste tons of time (and money!). These include:

The solutions to these problems are the same as for in-person meetings, but perhaps even more important for virtual meetings. 

Setting your virtual meetings up for success

Have you sat through a Zoom meeting yet with your mic on mute, trying to sneak in writing an email or work on a project? Yeah…It’s hard to stay engaged when there are outside distractions like your dog licking your feet or your child asking for a snack...500 times. The ‘distance’ in social distancing can feel far and the screen a barrier between you and your colleagues. Not to mention the innate distraction of the COVID19 situation itself. It’s all anyone can talk about and it’s pretty exhausting.

So what to do? Some preparation, structure, accountability, and compassion will go a long way in setting your virtual meetings up for success, and Tadum will help.

1. Prepare for your Zoom meetings with an agenda

Like all meetings, it makes a big difference for both the person who is leading the meeting and the attendees to know why they are meeting in the first place! We are all having trouble concentrating some days so knowing why we are meeting and the outcomes of the meeting go a long way. Your Zoom meetings need an agenda!

Prepare and send an agenda ahead of the meeting

For meeting leaders

Preparing an agenda is an important way to collect your thoughts on what you want to talk about and narrow down the outcomes you want to achieve. You might even have a set format you follow like running a Level 10 meeting or a Gazelles weekly meeting which helps give you a structure to follow. When your agenda is done you can digitally send it to your meeting attendees and set the tone for the meeting. 

For meeting attendees

Seeing the agenda ahead of the meeting and understanding the purpose of the meeting makes a huge difference for everyone to come in prepared. They can review anything they need to ahead of time, they know if there is something specific expected of them to talk about or present on, and they can add their own agenda items.

Time isn’t wasted IN the meeting, multiplied by all those people figuring out why everyone is there and what you are going to talk about.

How Tadum helps you prepare for your Zoom meeting

  1. Agenda reminders - Tadum sends you a reminder to prepare the agenda so you don’t forget.
  2. Consistent meeting agenda format - Every Tadum agenda can have any number or combination of our five section types: Todos, Attachments, Discussions, Updates, and Metrics. You can prepare the agenda topics based on whatever works best for your team. 
  3. Share an online agenda with attendees - When your agenda is ready, you can share it with everyone attending the meeting. They can all access it in real-time and even add comments or new agenda items before the meeting.
  4. Fast meeting preparation for your next Zoom call - Once you have created your agenda template for each meeting once, that structure and all open discussions and todos automatically carry forward when you finish each meeting. Nothing gets lost or forgotten and prep for the next meeting is a snap!

Compassion reminder

Leave a little space in your online meetings for people to chat a little and connect. That grid of faces on Zoom might be the only social interaction that some people get that day. Everyone is missing the ‘water cooler’ talk and hallway chats and having a bit of space to share can help keep up morale during this hard time. 

You can even create an agenda item for these on your Tadum agenda. You can see examples of this in the Good News section of the Weekly Gazelles meeting or the Segue section in a Level 10 meeting.

2. Keep people engaged by sharing your agenda

First, it can help to set some ground rules for your video conference calls, especially for people who are new to video conferencing. You can learn more in our Tips for running effective remote meetings. Clear expectations are a big part of engagement, which is why having an agenda in the first place is so important.

Screen share your agenda and/or have a real-time digital option

With Zoom, you can easily share your screen. It can be helpful for meeting attendees to be able to visually follow along as you move through the agenda and take meeting minutes. Alternately, everyone can follow along from their own homes if they can all access the agenda digitally.

How Tadum’s online shared agendas help keep people engaged

  1. Online shared agenda - Once you have created your agenda, you can share it with your meeting attendees with the click of a button. They are emailed the link and can review the agenda before the meeting, follow along during the meeting, and read the meeting minutes after it’s over.
  2. Real-time agenda access - Everyone attending the meeting can access the agenda in real-time, at the same time. You can see who has the agenda open and watch one-another make comments or add todos in real-time.
  3. Access from anywhere, on any device - Maybe you need some sunshine and are in your back yard on your phone. No problem! You can access and record your agenda and minutes from your laptop, tablet, or phone from any browser.

Compassion reminder

Kids, pets, and partners might be a real thing during your Zoom calls. It’s a big part of what makes this situation unique. While work needs to be done and important discussions need to be had, normalizing the occasional cat butt in front of the camera or parter walking by in the background in PJs can help lower some of the stress that comes with video conferencing.   

3. Keep people accountable with real-time todos and meeting minutes

It's easy to agree to do something before the next video call, nod sagely in your new headphones, only to have it slip your mind as soon as you disconnect from Zoom. Prevent that “oh crap” moment in your next meeting where you realize you didn’t do that thing by recording meeting minutes and todos in real-time during the meeting.

Record meeting minutes 

Meeting minutes make sure everyone is on the same page and keep a history of discussions and decisions. They are so valuable if someone had to miss the meeting (my cat chewed my power cord AGAIN), or you want to go back and review what was agreed upon weeks later (since no one can remember what happened yesterday, never mind 3 weeks ago).

Record todos

As part of your minutes, recording todos as they are assigned makes a huge difference in keeping people accountable for the things they said they would do. Having a name next to a todo, along with a due date, reinforces who is responsible for what, and when.  

How Tadum todos and meeting minutes help keep people accountable 

  1. Todos require a person and a due date - When you record a todo on your Tadum agenda it has to have a name and a due date assigned.
  2. Rolling todos stay on the agenda until done - Todos stay on the agenda until they are marked as done. This means you don’t have that moment of blank faces staring at you when you ask, “Who said they would do that last meeting?”.
  3. Automatically generate meeting minutes - In Tadum, you record your meeting minutes inside the agenda. Discussions and todos are marked as Open, Closed, or Tabled. When you finish the meeting, anything that is left Open or Tabled rolls forward into your next meeting agenda. Anything that is marked as Closed is removed from the next agenda and automatically saved as read-only meeting minutes.

Compassion reminder

While we want to ensure everyone stays accountable for their responsibilities, there are likely still going to be things that are missed or forgotten between meetings (especially right now). There are so many distractions and competing priorities like having to school your children, make 3 meals a day, and/or share an office with your partner...all while trying to work. Let’s all try to be patient and kind when mistakes or missed todos happen.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, perhaps permanently. Where possible, anyone who can work from home is doing so. Meetings are now almost exclusively virtual and using online video conferencing software is the norm. While it has been a rocky transition for many, this is an opportunity to adapt and set new processes, like running your virtual meetings with an agenda and taking meeting minutes! Combining your Zoom video conference calls with Tadum online agendas and meeting minutes will help you avoid the common pitfalls of in-person meetings by adding some preparation, structure, and accountability (with compassion!).

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