Meetings – online – business/internal meeting

Element Descriptor

Online internal group meetings should be a decent way of regularly sharing information, discussing issues and making decisions without the faff of all having to trek to a specific place. Consideration to the elements common to meatspace meetings of a similar nature should happen, but again what changes could or should happen to make it work better online?

Level descriptors

NovicePractitionerExpertNinja
You read any materials shared before the meeting, attend on-time using links provided within calendar invites or emails, contribute to points where you can and help to keep the meeting on-topic and within the allocated duration. You are able to track actions during the meeting or take some notes if required.You prepare or read materials shared before the meeting, attend on-time using links provided within calendar invites or emails, contribute to points regularly, keep the meeting on-topic and within the allocated duration. You are able to chair the meeting, track actions or take notes if required. You’ll make note of any discussions that are off-topic and follow up if asked. You’ll ensure that there’s a balanced debate or contribution from others to encourage participation from all attendees.You prepare or read materials shared before the meeting, attend on-time using links provided within calendar invites or emails, contribute to points regularly, keep the meeting on-topic and within the allocated duration. You regularly chair the meeting in rotation with others, track actions or take notes. You’ll make note of any important discussions that are off-topic and follow up with those as required. You ensure that there’s balanced debate and ensure that there’s a fair contribution from others attendees. You innovate in the format and structure, listening to feedback and suggestions on changes and are confident to suggest cancelling meetings where they are no longer required or if they won’t meet the objectives initially set out.You can do everything an expert can do, but quicker and with less effort and no mistakes – you can basically do this in your sleep.

Element Overview Essay

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Now this is obviously a new phenomenon for many groups, and I would say that therefore, there is hopefully a learning curve going on. However, I would also say that there’s a difference between being experienced and having expertise. So one of my favourite quotes is about the spin ball of Monty Panesar. And someone said to Shane Warne, I don’t need to introduce Shane I hope “well Monty now has played 30 tests so he’s experienced” and Shane said, “No, no, he’s played one Test 30 times”

It seems to me that there isn’t a lot of innovation and iteration of learning going on. In the groups online that I’ve seen. They seem mostly to be skeuomorphs for face-to-face meetings where the old patterns are basically replicated. 

The consequences of bad online meetings are people just don’t come back. If you don’t start on time, if you aren’t discussing the right things in the right ways, if you aren’t helping people orient themselves if you’re not helping them, contribute in meaningful ways. it’s even easier for them just to leave, physically or mentally., Oh, you know, “I’ve got a steam powered laptop” or, “oh, I’m all zoomed out” as many people are now saying, I’m all zoomed out middle class, people are saying I’m all zoomed out and then you have fewer intelligent people. And by intelligent I don’t mean “educated” (often confused with indoctrinated), I just mean intelligent people, chipping them with ideas and offering to do things and your group will stay the same size or shrink or die. 

So what is to be done?

There are lots of bits of advice about online meetings. They’re the same advice, really, as applies for meetings in meatspace. You know, why are you meeting or what are you having discussions? Are you having decisions? Is the agenda too packed? Can some of these discussions and decisions be made by subgroups or via polls.  Is everyone able to stay for the full length of time@

Then crucially as with any meeting, it helps to be aware of something called the peak end effect, which is that people remember the most vivid bit of an experience and the final bit. So make sure that the final bit as is as uplifting, funny, whatever as possible, even if it is something artificial like a terrible joke. 

The other thing about online meetings is you need someone who is and there’s no excuse for online meetings. You need someone who is updating the agreed actions in real time into whatever your action tracker is, whether it’s a spreadsheet, or a Word document or whatever. And then sending that,  to hold the people who agreed to do stuff, because otherwise things will fall through the cracks

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