So what if you find you need to run meetings from home? Here are some thoughts…
Make sure you have the best equipment set up you can – ideally, cable internet connection rather than wifi, a webcam and a USB headset on your laptop. The last two are not expensive but make a difference.
Ideally find a quiet place to have your meeting and have cup of something restoring to hand.
Before the meeting, send clear information to participants in particular including what to expect, agenda and timings, and any preparation they are asked to do. If some tasks can be done beforehand rather than taking up time during the meeting, that’s helpful.
If possible use a meeting platform (Zoom, Adobe Connect, Teams e.g.) that people are familiar with rather than the latest new thing. Keep it simple.
Keep it short – no more than two hours, with a five minute break half way through. Better to have a series of shorter meetings than cramming too much into one.
Ideally have two facilitators – one looking after the people and agenda, and one to provide technology back up. This person does not need to be a tech expert but is ready to use Google to solve any problems particularly in the first ten minutes as people are joining.
Welcome people warmly, make them feel at home – meetings are about human connection not just getting through business.
Set simple ways of working / ground rules e.g. mute mics when not speaking, put up hands to signal you want to speak, say ‘I’ve finished’ when you’ve finished speaking.
If using a webcam, sit in front of a plain wall and check how the lighting makes you look. Pets on the lap are a popular look but don’t distract too much.
Vary the pace and activities – keep it participatory – and use functions like ‘annotate’ to involve people in writing comments on slides / whiteboards etc. rather than just having a long telephone conference.
If at all possible, include at least one session where people break into smaller groups to vary the pace.
Follow up with a short summary of what was achieved, thank people and ask people what they liked about the meeting and what could be improved next time.
If you are running several meetings in a day, schedule breaks for a stretch and a wander.
What do you think? It would be great to have your thoughts…