Opinion 3 minute read
“Hello …can you hear me?” or “Did you get that?” or "You are on mute." Or “Am I audible?”
These 5/ 4/ 3-word questions have been dominating our work lives since March 2020 when we all went online.
Even offices which are open are not working with full attendance and therefore, work-from-home and virtual meetings continue to be the norm.
Even though the world and its team has been having virtual meetings since the last 9 months, some communication continues to be lost in translation. Communication with teams and within teams are most challenging areas in best of times and now with the digital divide the challenge intensifies.
If your day also starts with a morning team meeting here are three tips to get the best out of them:
1. Set the agenda for online meeting with clearly defined points to be discussed. Create a shared common document in a drive or company dashboard in which all attendees can jot their discussion points. All attendees can update this document whenever a need arises. You can even divide the agenda points under various sub-heads. This will ensure an easy flow for the meeting without losing out valuable time or missing out on something important. Of course, this does not mean that impromptu idea-sharing should not be encouraged; this is the time when everyone has their boss’s and other members’ attention and should use this time to discuss any important action item or idea.
2. Assign a meeting master – Call them by whatever term you wish to, we use the term meeting master for our online meetings. After the first month or so of WFH for the entire team, we realised that there was no tracking of points discussed.
So, we started assigning a person the task of keeping track of the day’s agenda sheet. The meeting master is responsible for ticking-off each item, steering the meeting back to agenda items if the discussion goes off-track, and keeping a track of time. We have not missed a discussion point since and meetings do not over-run too.
A new meeting master is assigned every week by drawing of lots. The meeting master gets to choose our virtual meeting backgrounds for the week. It keeps the things interesting.
3. Take a minute to recap at the end – In online meetings, losing the connection or audio is a common occurrence, not to mention the loss of attention sometimes due to a pressure cooker kept on gas which needs to be put-off, a child demanding to know where a particular book is, a ringing doorbell signifying the house-help has arrived, the distractions are many and inevitable.
We have learned to factor-in all these and more in our meetings. At the end of our morning meetings, we always take a minute or two to recap the important action points decided and assigned during the meeting. This way there are no gaps in communication and everyone, even those who ‘joined late’ or ‘lost the connection’ or ‘got logged out’ or ‘had to skip out’, are in sync and on the same page.
The recap takes a minute but has been extremely effective in eliminating the ‘Oh! I missed that’ from our vocabulary.
Additional Tip: Make sure your daily work report format is designed in a way that it also captures open items from previous meetings so that any open items from your team’s schedule are not missed out. Our Monday morning and Friday evening meetings are more comprehensive and intense; the former outlines the agenda for the week and the latter takes stock of work done and pending.
Even as work from home continues, we continually look to enhance our productivity. Getting the best out of team meetings can be a small but significant contributor.
Richa Agarwal, is strategy & content partner, Grey Cell Public Relations.