We are all spending a lot of time in Zoom meetings lately. Sales calls, team meetings, job interviews, and everything in between have all gone virtual, thanks to the new social distancing guidelines. And for many small- to medium-business owners, virtual meetings are something they don't have a lot of experience with. You may have done a few here and there, but moving to a virtual platform for everything does come with its set of challenges. 

So today I wanted to share with you some best practices for when and how to run virtual meetings. 

Only Meet if Necessary

When the ability to walk into a co-worker's office to ask a question is no longer an option, the urge to jump in a Zoom call "really quick" can be an enticing one. But considering the fact that, pre Covid-19, executives were spending upwards of 23 hours a week in meetings, it really doesn't make a lot of sense to increase the amount of meetings that you have each week. 

Meetings are for creating value, not playing politics, covering your backside, or simply because "that's how we've always done things." If the meeting doesn't create value, cancel the meeting. You'll reap instant savings from the freed-up staff time for them to do other, more valuable work. Meetings are a great place to brainstorm ideas, reach a key decision, gain full buy-in from your staff, or coordinate execution. Just make sure the area you're brainstorming on, the decision you're making, or the project you're coordinating creates enough value for your company to yield a healthy return on your meeting investment. Otherwise, don't hold the meeting.

Have an Agenda Sent Out Ahead of Time

Another tip to making the most out of your virtual meetings is to have an agenda put together ahead of time. All meetings must have a purpose and an agenda. At Maui Mastermind, we like to send out a meeting agenda at least 24 hours (ideally 48 hours) ahead of the meeting. That gives participants plenty of time to read through it, make notes, add their own agenda points, and gather data if necessary. Which leads to a more productive meeting overall. 

Choose the Level of Interactivity

Another tip that we share with our coaching clients has to do with the way that we set up meetings. The level of interactivity and participation will vary greatly based on the number of participants and the meeting agenda. 

  • Small Meetings (Under 10 people): Fully interactive video meeting. 

Everyone has a chance to talk and participate and they are each in control of their own microphones and can mute or unmute based on their participation level. This setup is great for planning and strategy sessions. 

  • Medium Meetings (10-30 people): Modified, choreographed interaction and participation.

Once you get more than 10 participants in a meeting, it can become difficult to moderate if everyone has full microphone access. This type of meeting is best held with a moderator, who will cue and spotlight people when it is their turn to talk. A typical meeting will go something like this:

"Ok, let's go around the room and share our one victory for the week. I am going to go on the order that I see you on my screen...so Lisa, you are up first, then Tom, Gwen, and then Theresa." 

This gives everyone a chance to turn their microphone on at the appropriate time and helps the meeting run smoother. You can also leverage chat and breakout sessions to give participants time to brainstorm or strategize in a smaller group. Lastly, you want to be mindful of the length of your meeting. If you have 30 team members on a call, the cost for their time and lost opportunity doing other things is high, so make sure the meeting is quick and to the point.