It does not matter how well a virtual meeting is run or how much holding it saves on travel expense, if the desired outcome from the meeting is not achieved in a timely manner. Often meetings miss the mark because action items are not complete and expected deliverables do not meet deadlines. To prevent a waste of labor dollars and valuable company time, the meeting leader must take the responsibility for follow-up. Below are five things a virtual meeting leader may want to incorporate into their post-meeting responsibilities to insure success.
- Survey the attendees immediately in order to improve. The survey can be a quick email poll of key questions with 3-4 answers the attendees may select from. This survey should be sent within an hour of the meeting end time. Why do this survey? If testing a virtual meeting tool for team use, a short survey to meeting members will provide valuable feedback. The feedback can help the organization decide if the tool is worth purchasing or if they need to continue looking for a tool with additional features or that is easier-to-use. If the tool is already the company standard, then asking different types of questions can help the meeting leader become better at facilitating future virtual meetings.
- Send meeting minutes or a web link to minutes within 24 hours of meeting end. Make sure everyone’s action items are included in the minutes as this will be the first thing attendees will look for. Action items should be listed using the 3W’s: Who will do it,What do they need to do, and When should it be done by. Also include a reminder with date and time of the next meeting if there is to be one, so everyone can verify they have it on their schedule. The meeting call-in data does not have to be in the minutes because it should be sent to desired participants a day or two before the actual meeting.
- Use a single location for all group data related to ongoing projects or team work. This single location can be a secured server file, a team blog or internal forum used to record information that members of the group can review at any time between meetings. This single location can also be handy for storing all links to team documents on a company server or website. Do not put passwords in these locations no matter how secure the site is expected to be.
- Send a reminder of action items and any other required information a few days before the next meeting, This will allow everyone time to get their actions done and report on them to the meeting leader before the next meeting, which means less time has to be spent reviewing actions during the virtual meeting. If anyone is having problems meeting their due dates, this will give them the opportunity to discuss resources and other options with the team leader. Any new documents or presentation materials can also be given for advanced preview via email attachment or by providing a link for on-line review and/or download.
- Plan the next meeting to be even better than the last. The meeting leader can make each meeting better by using what is learned from prior meetings. In addition, the leader can review documentation of the tool used for holding virtual meetings to find out if there are features that may be helpful that are not being taken full advantage of, such as in-meeting polling, slide shows, video or webcam options, and recording information or making changes on-screen. Also, both the meeting leader and team members may want to research articles and tips to facilitate better virtually, encourage more meeting participation, and develop meeting behavior guidelines.
Using and understanding the five suggestions above should help meeting leaders to have more effective virtual meetings, because the leader is responsible for more than just what goes on in the meeting. To be truly successful, most meetings will extend to work outside the meeting start and stop times. Therefore, the meeting leader must take initiative for meeting resources and be willing to help the meeting members understand their responsibilities to future success as well.