Better Virtual Meetings. Better Bottom Line.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19, many organizations have moved to full or hybrid remote work models. It makes sense, the less we’re gathering in common spaces, the less likely we are to spread the virus. As physical distancing becomes the new normal, leaders would do well to familiarize themselves with the practice of intentional inclusion...from a distance.
If we’re all working separately from one another, then how can we build community, engagement, and an inclusive culture across our teams? Research indicates that remote workers often feel isolated and left out, so we all have to work a bit harder to build trust and connections with each other. Collaboration doesn’t happen just because we’re able to host video conferences. True collaboration and inclusivity come from proactive leadership and intentional use of the tools we are given.
What do we mean by an inclusive virtual meeting? Inclusive meetings engage all participants, everyone gets the opportunity to contribute, and all voices have equal weight. The facilitator helps people feel prepared to engage and on equal footing by sharing the agenda in advance and minimizing interruptions and interrupters during the meeting.
Increase Inclusion by Establishing Team Rules of Engagement
Establish, model, and enforce rules of engagement as a blueprint to maximize participation in virtual meetings and minimize shortcomings to ensure all participants are included in the discussion.
Use video conferencing as often as possible. Video is one of the most effective ways to make people feel engaged in a meeting. Seeing each other facilitates communication and inclusion. It humanizes us and brings us together.
Assume positive intent in remote meetings. Sometimes context and meaning are misread without the benefit of seeing body language.
Collaborate with other attendees on the agenda. This helps build community and trust.
Allow time at the beginning of the meeting to chat. Introduce and welcome everyone and set expectations that everyone is invited to contribute and participate.
Don’t allow participants to speak over other participants. Establish a norm of one person talking at a time.
Take turns making comments or asking questions.
Keep track of who’s talking and who’s not. Notice who speaks first and who is silent.
Prevent individuals from dominating or derailing discussions.
Work to engage less vocal team members and give them opportunities to speak. Ask people directly for input.
Send out a follow-up email with a summary of key actions, next-steps, owners, and due dates so that everyone has a common understanding of actions and is included in the follow-up and meeting outcome.
The art of facilitating inclusive, engaging virtual meetings is quite a competitive advantage and is a key component in brainstorming and harnessing the power of diverse perspectives and experiences. The best teams include diverse workers and thinkers that process information and approach tasks in a number of different ways. When done with intention virtual collaboration offers an efficient and rewarding remote work experience and better business outcomes.