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Tips for Having Great Virtual Meetings

Tips for Having Great Virtual Meetings


    (Editor’s note: The following post is an excerpt from the book The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential by Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese. Ron Ricci is the vice president of corporate positioning and has spent the last decade helping Cisco develop and nurture a culture of sharing and collaborative processes. In addition, he has spent countless hours with hundreds of different organizations discussing the impact of collaboration. Carl Wiese is senior vice president of Cisco’s collaboration sales — a multi-billion global business. He has presented on the importance of collaboration to business audiences in dozens of countries, including Australia, China, Dubai, India, Mexico and all across Europe and the United States. For more information please visit http://thecollaborationimperative.com.)

    New technology and the reality of working in global organizations means we are replacing traditional in-person meetings with travel-free, technology-enabled, face-to-face collaboration that can occur at anytime, with anyone, anywhere in the world.

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    The virtual workplace has many advantages, but it also introduces new challenges. We work with people we’ve never met before, and we cannot bond in the same way we do when we are sitting across the table from them.

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    The three most important ingredients of a successful virtual meeting are trust, communication and ready access to information. Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

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    • Before the meeting, make sure attendees have all the preparation materials they will need and the time to review them.
    • Begin with a quick warm-up. For example, start the meeting by asking remote attendees to describe what’s happening in their country, town or office.
    • During “blended” meetings, where some attendees are gathering in person and others are participating virtually, address remote attendees first and then offer the opportunity to speak to in-person attendees.
    • Identify in-person attendees. In-room speakers — whether presenting or making a comment — should introduce themselves so that remote attendees know who is speaking.
    • Ask remote attendees to be vocal. Emphasize that it is their responsibility to let in-person people know if they cannot hear or follow the discussion.
    • Don’t assume everyone is comfortable with the virtual collaboration technology. Communicate and publish the location and guidelines for the tools you’re using.
    • Rotate meeting times. Ensure that each time zone has a meeting scheduled during normal business hours.
    • Solicit participation. Regularly ask remote attendees if they have comments and encourage participants to post a message.
    • Assign a meeting monitor. Keep an eye out for questions, IMs or chat postings and interjects from remote attendees.
    • If your virtual team includes customers, partners, suppliers or vendors, ensure the security of your documents and corporate information.
    • Avoid colloquialisms, acronyms and corporate-speak if you have nonnative speakers.

    (Photo credit: Businessman and Businesswoman Having Meeting via Shutterstock)

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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