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Top Tips For Distributed Meetings

We regular talk on how to improve your distributed meetings. This video covers our top tips.


Tip 1: Use Good Tech

Tech is changing all the time, and mostly, it’s getting better. Be sure to investigate tools regularly. We used to love Skype, but with many people it got clunky, then along came Google Hangouts. Awesome we can now see who is talking as their name is highlighted! And then along came Zoom, with features like muting, and switching off video and hangout rooms. I’m sure the next great tool is just waiting for us around the corner.

Tip 2: Working Agreements

Decide as a team what your remote meeting agreements are, that will help you meetings work better. Some we use often are:

Bottom Line – don’t give us the 10 minute version of your story, rather bottom line it and give us the 1 minute outcome that is important. At any point during a meeting anyone can say (or type) “bottom line” to help speed up conversation and get to the point.

Disaster plan – Decide what will happen if someone can’t connect. Or the site is down. Where do they look next? For example: Mostly we meet on Zoom. If you can’t get into Zoom for some reason (or we get cut off half way), then we communicate via our slack channel, and if that not working then we use email. This means everyone knows what to do in the event of a tech failure.

Talking Over – Decide what will happen if people talk over each other. Will you leave it to people to self organise, or should both people stop speaking and wait for the facilitator to ask each of them to speak.

Silence – Get comfortable with silence. Around a table you can see people are thinking and so silence is ok. On a voice only call this is more tricky, are they still there? Did they get cut off? It’s ok for the line to go dead for a bit. Thinking and silence is ok, but it takes getting used to.

Tip 3: Good voice trumps bad video

If on a call with video and voice someone is struggling with a poor connection, rather turn off video. This should allow that person to at least hear the conversation clearly. This is much better than having some video but sound cutting out or distorted.

Tip 4: Same experience for all

If even one person is dialing in, rather have everyone dial in. Otherwise everyone else has an in person experience with facial expressions and body language cues except for those dialing in. It’s almost as if you are having a conversation in another language. Rather have everyone dial in and have the same experience for everyone on the call – this will result in far better communication and collaboration.

Tip 5: Prepare

Most distributed meetings are prepared in that someone will dial someone in. That’s it. You still need to facilitate and prepare for the meeting. Make use of various tools, like whiteboarding or Trello or google draw or boardthing. How can you make the meeting more interactive? Schedule breaks every 50 minutes, tell everyone to get a coffee and join back in 5 minutes. Be creative!

If you have more tips to share – please leave them in the comments field below.