Telecommuting, virtual teams, outsourcing, and globalization have all contributed to increased incidence of virtual meetings between people who never meet face to face, or at least, haven't met face to face yet. For these meetings, a simple agenda isn't enough, because people need to know more about each other to work effectively together. To make the meeting more productive, distribute a program — not just an agenda.
Pattern your meeting program after the programs of sporting events, plays, the opera or ballet. Playbill is an example. Since the program is replacing the agenda, it must, at a minimum, serve the function of the agenda. But you can also include background enrichment material of all kinds. Here are some ideas for your programs.
- Links to exhibits
- If the meeting includes discussions or reviews of exhibits — contracts, reports, diagrams, audios, videos, and so on — attendees have to review them beforehand. Include links to these items. Or for the convenience of attendees, combine all exhibits into a zip archive to make downloading easy.
- Links to MP3s or MPEGs of attendees talking
- In telephone conferences, being able to recognize each other's voices is a big advantage. But since recognizing the voice of someone you've never met is difficult, have everyone make recordings introducing themselves. Video is great, but audio helps too. Give everyone an opportunity to see and listen to each other before the meeting.
- Bios and contact information
- Bios of all attendees help them establish relationships before the meeting begins, especially if some haven't attended this particular meeting before. Let people write their own bios. Professional bios help everyone understand each other's area of expertise. But personal details help too, because they give everyone little insights about each other as people.
- In telephone conferences,
being able to recognize
each other's voices
is a big advantage
- If a team or team member made an outstanding contribution recently, or received recognition for any reason, play it up. Most of us like to see our names in lights.
- Project successes, vision, and history
- Include a little summary of past successes and what the future holds. This helps keep people fixed on the goal. It's an opportunity not to be missed.
- Site imagery and videos
- Familiarity with the sites where people work helps people "place" each other in a context. It gives them a setting in which to imagine the other people attending the meeting, which is especially important for telephone meetings. If you're holding the meeting as an off-site, provide history and information about local attractions.
Your meeting program, like all documents, is subject to your organization's document retention and destruction policies. Since it's a compound document (it might not reside in a single place), and since it might consist of a mixture of media, check with your document retention specialist to make sure that you understand the policy before you create the program. If you can conform to requirements, using a program instead of an agenda can make a real difference in your meetings. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Status-Report as a Second Language
- Sometimes, the clichés the losing team's players feed to sports reporters can have hidden meaning.
So it is with Project Status Reports, especially for projects in trouble.
- Recalcitrant Collaborators
- Much of the work we do happens outside the context of a team. We collaborate with people in other departments,
other divisions, and other companies. When these collaborators are reluctant, resistive, or recalcitrant,
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- On Virtual Relationships
- Whether or not you work as part of a virtual team, you probably work with some people you rarely meet
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- Making good guesses — guessing right — is often regarded as a talent that cannot be taught.
Like most things, it probably does take talent to be among the first rank of those who make conjectures.
But being in the second rank is pretty good, too, and we can learn how to do that.
- The Limits of Status Reports: I
- Some people erroneously believe that they can request status reports as often as they like, and including
any level of detail they deem necessary. Not so.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 27: Interrupting Others in Meetings Safely: I
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- And on July 4: Interrupting Others in Meetings Safely: II
- When we feel the need to interrupt someone who's speaking in a meeting, to offer a view or information, we would do well to consider (and mitigate) the risk of giving offense. Here are some techniques for interrupting the speaker in situations not addressed by the meeting's formal process. Available here and by RSS on July 4.
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As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. Lessons abound. Among the more important
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development. Read more about this program. Here's
a date for this program:
- Ohio National Insurance, 1 Financial Way, Blue Ash, OH: July
Monthly Meeting, Cincinnati
chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Register now.
- Ohio National Insurance, 1 Financial Way, Blue Ash, OH: July 17, Monthly Meeting, Cincinnati chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Register now.
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