If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved and never will achieve its full potential, that word would be “meetings.” ~Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”
Distance may make it impossible for you to get together with your team in person, but you can still successfully coordinate with your people via teleconference. The trick is: how can you make these remote tête-à-têtesas productive as possible? Here are 6 rules of thumb to get you started:
Choose the right frequency
For many teams, daily or even weekly meetings will be too frequent. While you want to communicate – and even “overcommunicate” – with your people to get the work done and keep everything in track and on scope, you also don’t want to waste people’s time or energy.Pick a frequency based on the nature of the engagement, the degree of familiarity people have with you and your goals and the stage of the project. Remember that nothing’s written in stone. If you find that you are meeting too frequently or too infrequently, modify the schedule.
Avoid improvised, “triage” focused get-togethers
Impromptu meetings are rarely as productive as scheduled meetings.Schedule people’s time in advance, so that everyone can prepare their talking points and deliverables and make adjustments regarding conflicts. Send out multiple reminders in the run-up. As we mentioned above, don’t be afraid to overcommunicate.
Send out items for review in advance
Prior to the meeting, send copies of all of the documents you will be using to each member of your team. Ask your people to review these materials prior to kick-off, so you won’t waste time getting everyone on the same page.
Limit the number of participants
Having too many people involved contributes to confusion and background noise. Try to limit your discussions to no more than five participants. If necessary, break large teams into two or more smaller groups.
Have the right equipment
To prevent any technology delays or breakdowns during your meeting, make sure each participant has high-quality equipment and a communication setup that functions properly. For example, wired connections are typically more reliable than wireless ones, and cameras used for video conferencing should have decent resolution and clarity. Each participant should also have his or her own noise-cancelling headphones.
Structure your meeting
To ensure that everyone stays on track, create a schedule in advance, and provide a copy to each participant.