Running successful meetings is an art and a science, and it takes practice to master. When it comes to remote meetings, the process takes a little more planning. There are more obstacles to deal with: schedules, disruptions, and missing interpersonal cues, to name a few. When done correctly, meetings should produce the same result, no matter the format: efficiency, alignment, and action.
We’ve been refining how we run our meetings over the last few years, and thought it would be useful to share some recommendations that could improve the outcome of your meetings.
1. Great tools need great practices
The tools that your team uses to facilitate meetings become even more critical when you're remote. From video conferencing to goal tracking, what you're working with will have an impact on how you get things done. Apps like Range offer a suite of features that make keeping track of agendas, tying topics to company goals, and sharing meeting actions and notes easy. Sharing information asynchronously like this is a great practice generally, but especially useful for remote teams when not everyone can make the meeting due to time zone constraints or other commitments.
But it’s also important to remember that the best tools won’t help if you don’t have clear practices. Take time to document your approach to running different meetings, from how to make sure everyone can participate, to how you’ll share information and decisions. We combine features in Range with a shared Google Doc to make sure everyone understands the what and how of meetings.
2. Opening round
Working on a remote team can take a toll on the sense of team belonging and, in turn, performance. It's a good idea to create chances for people to connect and share how they're doing. Using a opening round at the beginning of each meeting helps reinforce this sense of belonging and strengthens culture. The meeting spinner in Range is a randomized and straightforward way to give everyone a chance to share what's going on with them. And research has shown that when someone speaks at the beginning of a meeting, they are more likely to engage throughout.
3. The agenda
Better meetings come from being prepared. When everyone knows what's going to be covered, it's easier for them to gather information and have it ready to share. It eliminates the need for guesswork and off-lining and results in fewer projects held up in the process. The flow from one topic to the next is smooth and efficient.
You can also slot in time during the meeting for new agenda items. This helps to make the most of everyone’s time, makes sure additional critical items that might have just come up are covered, and provides structure to keep everyone engaged.
The best part? You avoid the problem of one voice controlling the whole meeting.
4. The designated speaker
People talking over one another, running out of time before everyone shares, and general chaos are all scenarios that you want to avoid when hosting a remote meeting. A great way to do this is to have a 'one speaker at a time' rule. Being intentional about who is speaking and making sure that everyone gets their turn creates inclusion and helps the session run smoothly.
The spinner in Range also works well for this use case.
5. The facilitator
Even with a plan, the right tools, and everyone getting a chance to speak, it's a good idea to select a facilitator who is responsible for making sure the meeting runs smoothly and that all topic owners have a chance to cover what they need. It's essential to have the facilitator identify themselves at the beginning of the meeting. They are there to make sure not too much time is spent on one topic and to record action items and notes. The facilitator doesn't have to be the most senior person on your team. It's actually helpful if they're not. Everyone should respect their role and follow their lead regardless.
Also, consider rotating facilitators for team meetings, which can help everyone develop the meeting management skills.
6. Take notes and assign action owners
When you're not in the same place, making sure that the team is on the same page about what you discussed and what are the next steps is that much more useful. Taking notes and capturing action items, then sharing them where everyone can access them or sending them via email are a few ways to keep everyone in the loop. With Range, you can take organized notes, record and assign action items, and share them with the entire team over email and Slack when the meeting wraps with no added work for anyone. It's that simple.