When I ask people what they love about virtual meetings, they usually tell me they get to avoid the commute, dress business-casual from the waist up, and pet the dog while no one is looking.
These are great things to love about virtual meetings, but they aren't my reasons. I believe meetings can be great, and that virtual meetings can sometimes be better than in-person meetings.
I'm Maggie. And great meetings are my business.
When I ask people what they dislike about meetings, they tell me they are rife with inefficiencies, boredom and general unpleasantness. Loud voices, conversation hoarders, and waiting forever to share something, and then giving up because you'd rather just let the meeting end already than share your contribution.
What promise could the virtual space hold?
It can't be much more engaging than a webinar or a conference call right? Actually, I often find myself at an in-person meeting wishing we were on a Zoom call instead. Virtual meetings can function and perform in ways that in-person meetings can’t touch. The tools and methods available virtually to co-create, make decisions, explore ideas, give and get counsel, and even strengthen personal connections and teamwork are unparalleled
Don't believe me? In a virtual space, we can instantly see and capture everybody's written responses to good questions like:
"What is our worthy-yet-elusive goal with this project?"
"What’s going on now that demands a fresh approach?”
We can start, sort, and capture brainstorms in rapid real time, and these features makes meeting notes and minutes a snap too. There are amazing and easy online tools where we can co-design and vision together.
And my personal favourite? When I close a breakout room in Zoom, and online meeting platform folks are informed that they have 60 secs to wrap up their conversation. Then, when time is up, all the conversations end at the same time - this is a facilitator’s dream. There's even a timer - how efficient and equalizing is a timer? No herding cats or straining my voice.
Virtual meetings are no longer the backup plan when you can’t get everybody together in a room. They are more efficient for the organization (simultaneous feedback) and for the individual (everyone gets a front row seat). They level the field and invite participation from everyone, which makes so much more possible.
Virtual meetings are incredibly nimble and help you work deeply and efficiently on the most important work, and let you save the in-person meetings for things that can't be enjoyed virtually, like employee recognition, hands-on projects, and happy hours.
Take Your Learning Further
- Register for a free Tamarack Institute webinar on Hosting Great Virtual Meetings, featuring Maggie Chumbley and Sylvia Cheuy
- Learn more about Maggie and her facilitation practice
- Read Maggie's guide to facilitating virtual meetings