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Three Tips for More Effective Virtual Meetings

{ 14 comments… add one }

I have managed and led several virtual teams over the last 10 years and it always seems like a struggle to get the same type of active participation and healthy productive conflict you get with face to face teams. Such passivity in meetings often results in delayed decisions, the re-hashing of the same issues every meeting and less than ideal results. Meetingchairs

Here are a few things I have learned over the years that may help increase participation in your virtual team meetings. If you have others, we would love to hear them. Or if you have experience with any of the ideas listed below, please comment.

1. Create virtual meeting norms. Creating a set of norms that the team can agree to around participation and behavior during the meetings reminds everyone what is expected. You only need four to five items, anymore than that is too much. Start off by brainstorming as many ideas as the team can come up with. Then group common ideas. Next, ask what one item is the most critical for your team to observe during meetings? Allow for lots of discussion until you have narrowed the list down to the final four to five items.

2. Before the meeting starts send out an agenda and your expectations in regards to participation for each agenda item. Making expectations clear is a basic communication principle.

3. Mine for participation. Healthy productive conflict and task centric discussion has to be a part of every meeting. People don’t always feel comfortable with stating how they really feel about agenda items, ideas and issues. It is very easy to hide behind a phone line and/or computer. When a participant has become passive it is necessary for the meeting leader to draw him or her in. This requires the leader ask passive participants to weigh in and to dig further if necessary by following up with questions.

The fact is virtual teams and meetings will not be going away any time soon. Leaders must be willing to adapt. Failing to do so will result in negative outcomes.


Do you want other helpful tips on meetings? Click on the below post.

8 Important tips to help you waste time in meetings


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Mike Rogers

Leave a Comment

  • Beth Halverson March 30, 2010, 12:49 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of these tips. It is extremely important to come up with a virtual ‘culture’ just like a real-world culture. Team Space by Sococo currently does not impose many restrictions to allow teams to decided on their own ‘cultural’ norms.
    Having a clear agenda, and a start and stop time really keeps meetings from dragging on, I can attest to that!
    Sometimes participation in virtual meetings can be difficult. We’ve had reports that our user interface allows for quieter and timid employees to feel comfortable speaking up and sharing.
    Thank you for this advice, and I welcome anyone to try out a free site during our Beta program at!

  • Priyanka D March 30, 2010, 11:21 pm

    As of now I have found Skype to be pretty good for virtual meetings. Its tough to find a good conference software though..

  • Julie Pigdon March 31, 2010, 6:45 am

    Hi Mike,
    All great points.
    I also think that the more you know about someone, the better you can communicate and work with that person. And this is where a valid and reliable psychometric Profile, like the Team Management Profile, comes in very handy. If your participants each had a copy of the others’ Profiles, explaining how to best communicate with that person, they would find it much easier to relate. This would make your meetings far more productive.
    Feel free to have a look at our website
    All the best with it Mike!

  • Mike Rogers March 31, 2010, 6:54 am

    Thanks for your comments Beth and Priyanka. We are still a long ways from software that can really do the job for virtual meetings.
    Beth, can you provide a little more information on your software in this forum? How does it exactly help employees feel more comfortable speaking up and sharing? Thanks!

  • Mike Rogers March 31, 2010, 7:02 am

    Julie, thank you. I agree about building relationships and understanding people. I use personality profiles and team profiles in my training. It helps build the trust.

  • Beth Halverson April 7, 2010, 3:33 pm

    Hi Mike,
    Team Space by Sococo offers a virtual office layout. There are offices, conference rooms, and a courtyard. Each user is represented by an avatar that illustrates when someone is listening, has their microphone on, and blinks when talking. These visual cues really aid in any meeting.
    For those who have been a little more timid in meetings, having this ‘veil’ that still communicates what is going on, makes them more comfortable speaking up and feeling like an equal. Ideas and communication become more important than style or status. Several users have reported this, and I have experienced it myself!
    Being able to ‘see’ everyone in the team space- in their offices with a status message- allows users to feel more connected when they are a distributed team.
    I encourage you to take a look at our software and try it out for yourself.
    Thank you for letting me talk about our product, I’m very proud to be on this team!
    Beth Halverson
    785 Castro Street
    Mountain View, CA 94041
    Phone: 650 425 7801

  • Laura De La Cruz February 27, 2011, 7:31 am

    These are very good suggestions! For a small business person like myself (I’m an Independent Director with Scentsy Wickless Candles – http://www.crazyforscentscom) who has a small team that is fairly spread out (I have 61 right now but some as far away as Montana – I’m in El Paso, Texas), these types of low-cost, easy-to-implement suggestions are extremely helpful! It is very hard to motivate and lead from a distance and I am always looking for ideas. Thanks!

  • Virtual office software alternatives October 27, 2011, 5:36 am

    I think virtual meetings can be as effective as face-to-face meetings if team leaders have the right skills and tools. Tools that can be use to manage and facilitate more productive and engaging virtual meetings.

  • James Potter October 31, 2011, 6:10 am

    Trust is one of the key enablers to build a successful virtual meetings.

  • Mike Rogers November 1, 2011, 10:28 am

    I agree James. Trust is so critical to teams and meetings.

  • Steve July 20, 2015, 4:32 am

    Thank you for effective virtual meeting tips Michael. And Priyanka, apart form Skype there are very good conferencing softwares such as webex, gomeetnow, gotomeeting, R-HUB etc. You may try it !


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