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
Is your organization a participant in one or more global teams? Are you the owner/sponsor of a global team? Are you managing a global team? Is everything going well, or at least as well as any project goes? Probably not. Many of the troubles people encounter are traceable to the obstacles global teams face when building working professional relationships from afar. Read 303 Tips for Virtual and Global Teams to learn how to make your global and distributed teams sing. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenoNBJcjjLSfGScPmyner@ChacIuvPDzIyKVqLstaloCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Snapshots of Squirming Subjects
- Today we use data as a management tool. We store, recall, and process data about our operations to help
us manage resources and processes. But this kind of management data is often scattered, out of date,
or just plain incorrect, and taking a snapshot doesn't work. There is a better way.
- How to Procrastinate
- You probably know many techniques for procrastinating, and use them regularly, but vociferously deny
doing so. That's what makes this such a delicate subject that I've been delaying writing this article.
Well, those days are over.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated
- In fiction and movies, the world is often simple. There's a protagonist, a goal, and a series of obstacles.
The protagonists and goals are good, and the obstacles are bad. Real life is more complicated.
- Mitigating Outsourcing Risks: II
- Outsourcing internal processes exposes the organization to a special class of risks that are peculiar
to the outsourcing relationship. Here is Part II of a discussion of what some of those risks are and
what can we do about them.
- Why Do Business Fads Form?
- The rise of a business fad is due to the actions of both its advocates and adopters. Understanding the
interplay between them is essential for successful resistance.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
- A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
- And on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
- Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenubaEHSRVFsBTygSWner@ChacDljejofCbDefmgKFoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.