Can I wear my bathrobe? Understanding virtual meeting protocol.

Author:Palias, Michalie
 
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The Virtual Meeting Attendee

We are a long way from the days of picking up a cup of coffee on the way to the conference room for an hour long meeting where we plopped down in a seat with our colleagues.

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Today, we arrive at our desks or plug in our laptops at a coffee shop. We place on a headset, then dial up our first meeting, We may be using a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone system or a 'land line'. We are on alert for text messages from people on the call wanting a side bar conversation before answering to the team.

Did you ever wonder what role you are supposed to fill as a virtual team member? Are you virtually invisible? Do you have an obligation to listen to everything?

Virtual behavior expectations are set by the virtual meeting leader. He or she will define the meeting protocols, whether it is done deliberately is a matter of planning.

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The Virtual Meeting Leader

The key to efficient virtual team management lies in structure by using meeting protocols and setting expectations regarding each member's contribution to the team. The team should expect the manager to lead the meeting with these tips:

* Provide technical support before the meeting

Make sure the call-in phone number works in the country of all attendees

Consider that everyone will likely have different system configurations and downloading software takes time and troubleshooting

* Create an "on-boarding process" that includes:

new member list set-up and inclusion

software installation

software and tools training

procedure review

role expectations setting

* Lay down ground rules and team communication protocols

Establish rules about when to use 'mote'

Allow for a 3.5 minute buffer as callers come on board

Set expectations regarding the use of email or text messaging during the call. Ask people to close out email to reduce distractions.

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* Include everyone but reduce unnecessary chatter.

Ask questions so that only exceptions are discussed. For example: "Who is having technical problems? Who does not have the documents?"

Use inclusion questions with a roll call or round robin technique so only one person is talking at a time.

A Virtual Demonstration

There's nothing like a play-by-play to demonstrate the point. Let's go through the things a meeting leader and attendee need to do before, during and after the virtual meeting to ensure a flawless experience.

Very often we forget about this critical step...

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