Living Leadership – How to Lead Successful Online Meetings

Change seems to be everywhere, and in everything we do these days.  One evidence of the workplace change is how we conduct meetings. I have found that using technologies to lead successful online meetings is teaching me to adapt. While it is true that I had a learning curve in using ZOOM technology, I was able to draw on experiences from other areas of my life to help me. It got me thinking that although things are very different, they also feel very familiar.

“The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

An excellent quote from Alan Watts and it speaks perfectly to us today since everyone is being encouraged to plunge into change.

5 Tips on How To Lead Successful Online Meetings (and more!)

I recommend you consider these valuable tips every day and not just the days when we are on a virtual call with our colleagues.

We have all been in a poorly led meeting. It’s frustrating and annoying, but a poorly run conference call is even worse because people that are on the line feel less of an obligation to pay attention. You know this, as it has probably happened to you. People will begin multitasking away from the call, and you can feel the energy in the group dissipate, to the point where everyone is relieved when it ends.

That is not how we want to experience our virtual meetings, or our in-person time either.

ONE: Be Present

Be present in this virtual environment. How can we expect the team to devote energy to the call if we are not willing to lead the way?

Make sure that you prepare well and that you are ready.

If you show up prepared and ready to go, you will impact others on the call positively. Be a role model and set an example.

TWO: Pay Attention to Individual Differences

You must know and understand how your team works, what motivates them, and what drives them.  When in the day are your staff at their best? How do they prefer to communicate? All of that can impact the way that we run our meetings.

THREE: Be A Sponge For Feedback

Even in our virtual environment, you need to create a sense of psychological safety. We can do this by asking people how they felt about the session.

In the training workshops that I have completed online to date, every little bit of feedback has helped me with the next one, and so on. Gradually, I have gotten better. Sure, I was nervous to start with, but with use, I have gained confidence and, in turn, helped the team to feel secure.

FOUR: Think About Your Energy

Take a moment before the meeting starts, and ask yourself, what sort of energy do I want to bring to this virtual meeting? What do I want those on the other end to feel? What kind of energy do I want to leave them with today? And finally, how can I provide a structure within this environment that supports them?

Many leaders are unaware of how much they connect to a team when they meet physically. When we are face-to-face, we naturally and subconsciously pick up on cultural cues and norms by observing behavior, dress, language, and communication patterns. When we are virtual with each other, there are other things to do. It is so easy in an online environment to be out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.

In the virtual world, you will need extra effort to build trust by being present and connecting with people as much as we possibly can.

Watch Out For This Challenge!

One of the challenges with remote work is that people can sometimes start to feel like they’re just a piece of machinery being used to get the job done at a distance. Emails and meetings become purely transactional.

We need to dedicate time to talk, to catch up, check-in, stay connected, just like we would do if we were working in a face-to-face environment.

Spend time, a few minutes, at the start of meetings to connect with people.

FIVE: Performance and Growth

You should not worry, as a supervisor or a manager, about how people are spending every single minute of their virtual day. Instead, you need to be clear about what you want people to achieve and spend your time there. If goals are met, we should not be concerned with how or when people are doing their work. Many people work in less than ideal environments at home with a lot of competing priorities, which can result in odd work hours.

It’s our job as leaders who lead successful online meetings to encourage self-reliance and autonomy. Building self-reliance means setting clear goals and then checking in regularly to see how we can support them. Asking a series of coaching questions is a great way to do this.