I forgot my password

A Guide to Leading Virtual Meetings

Leading good meetings is hard. Leading good virtual meetings is even harder. 

Without the benefit of having everyone in the same room, it’s a real challenge to get everyone engaged and generate a constructive discussion. The person leading the meeting must be on point more than ever—they need to be empathetic, deliberate, and organized, all while paying close attention to the quality of the discussion.

Here are five best practices of leading virtual meetings.

1. Share an agenda in advance

People will contribute better ideas if they know what to expect in advance of the meeting. Sharing a brief agenda will give people the opportunity to brainstorm ahead of time and come in with some thoughts to share. Your agenda should be clear and concise. Use subheadings for each topic, and under each topic write a few sentences that answer the following four questions:

  • Why are we discussing this?
  • How much time are we allocating for this topic? (In most cases, a discussion where everyone has had a chance to contribute is better than a rushed discussion, so allocate 20% more time for each topic than you think you’ll need.)
  • Where should we be at the end of our discussion?
  • What does everyone have to contribute?

2. Devote the start of the meeting to reconnecting with colleagues

With in-person meetings, the couple minutes before the meeting starts are an opportunity to chat and catch up with your colleagues. It’s an important part of building team bonds and creating camaraderie. While it can’t be entirely recreated virtually, it doesn’t have to be entirely lost. Spend the first few minutes chatting with the colleagues who arrive first. If it’s a regular team or department meeting, where maintaining team morale is especially important, add a sharing exercise to the start of the agenda where you choose three people to answer a non-work question like: “What’s a  good show you’ve seen recently?”

3. Discuss how you’re going to approach the meeting

Non-verbal cues don’t come across as well through video. It’s harder to generate a good discussion by just “letting it happen,” which is why virtual meetings need a firmer hand from the person leading it. Start the discussion by briefly outlining your approach and setting expectations. Things you might include are:

  • I’m going to be focused on keeping the conversation on track.
  • I hope for broad participation.
  • I might call on people at certain times.
  • Always feel free to bring up any ideas, questions, or views.
  • Please keep multi-tasking to a minimum.

4. Get people involved

It’s easy to hang back and let others do the talking in a virtual meeting, which is why you need to make an effort to get people involved. The first step is to make clear that you want everyone to contribute. The second step is to call on people when appropriate. Think through in advance whose perspectives you want to highlight, and keep track of who’s spoken so you know who you should invite to give their opinion.

5. Tie up loose ends

Ending meetings well makes a world of difference. Make sure to ask if anyone has anything else to add. If you’ve decided on next steps, run through those again to be sure that everyone’s on the same page. If someone made a really great contribution to the meeting, acknowledge it. Showing your appreciation when someone really deserves it reminds everyone that you care about having good meetings—even when it’s virtual.

Source: HBR Ascend

Available Jobs

Find the Right Person