Improving Meetings for Dispersed and Diverse Teams
Leading a distributed team is both challenging and enriching. Diverse voices bring valuable perspectives and insights to any issue we face. Here are 3 tips for using globally dispersed meetings to maximize team building. These tips assume a teleconference that includes a group in a conference room and people on the phone.
1. Don’t ignore the people on the phone. They may feel invisible and might become annoyed or tune out.
2. Don’t talk over one another or crack jokes. Several people talking at one time is killer for the folks on the phone, and joking around taking cheap shots is bad enough when you’re in the room. For the people who aren’t in the room, it is a complete turn-off.
3. Identify the speaker. Neglecting to identify whoever is talking turns the conversation into a blur. Let’s not assume everyone knows what our voice sounds like. If we are working with video, this stops being a problem. If there is a mix of people on video and people without video, it is a mistake to not identify every person who speaks.
More Tips for Improving Virtual Meetings
1. Be prepared. Start the conferencing equipment 10 minutes before the meeting to establish the virtual meeting space by checking sound and video quality. Someone on location and someone who is not present can test the audio and visual quality. Technical difficulties not only waste 10-15 people’s time but it is also a waste of money. 10 minute setup time can be an informal check-in and chat between locations, which helps distributed team members develop relationships.
2. Slow it down. Let the conversation have pauses so anyone who is not in the room has an opportunity to speak. When the noise is continuous in the conference room, people who are not in the room have a hard time contributing, even when they have something very important to say.
3. Ask questions. Ask people on the phone for comments, ideas, and suggestions whenever possible. Wait for an answer before moving on. Call on people who are quiet.
4. Set up the meeting. Teleconferencing that includes video is extremely valuable. Human beings are highly visual creatures and seeing each other helps us connect.