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How to Have the Best Virtual Team Meeting Possible

A project manager is smiling while on a conference call with her virtual team.Working on a project with a virtual team can be a challenging business for any project manager to handle.  Your regular team meetings will provide you with one of your best chances to make everyone feel a part of the work but they can also be one of the biggest challenges, so it is important that you go about them in the right way.

Set the Right Time and Date

Finding the perfect time for a team meeting can be hard enough when you all work within 50 meters of each other.  Add in the extra complications of different time zones and varying local holidays and you can see how difficult it can be. However, the last thing you want to do is choose a time which is clearly unsuitable for anyone in the team, as this shows a complete lack of consideration for them. By spending some time analyzing the working hours of everyone in your team you should hopefully come up with a solution which keeps everyone happy. If this is completely impossible then you could contact the workers who are most difficult to fit into your timetable and try to see whether you can reach a compromise which works for them. Everyone who works far from the main base is well aware of the time difference and will probably just be pleased that you contacted them in the first place rather than simply sending out an invite for 3 or 4 in the morning.

Sort Out the Roles Beforehand

Virtual meetings can descend into chaos unless it is clear from the start who is chairing it, who is taking the minutes and who gets to speak in which order. Sorting out a clear, professional agenda is the first step towards organizing matters and letting everyone know what is going to happen. There is nothing wrong with switching people’s role from one meeting to another but remember that handling virtual meetings can be tough, so you can’t expect anyone to do it perfectly the very first time.

Use Clear Communication

If you are using a non visual method of communication which relies purely on an audio link then you need to be sure that everyone also gets into the habit of saying who they are before they speak, as you can’t expect everyone to recognize each other’s voice all the time. Be careful if some of the team members have strong accents or don’t use English as their first language. You need to speak clearly at all times and try not to use local colloquialisms which other members of the team might not understand. Equally, action points and questions should be clearly stated so that it is perfectly clear what is being asked of whom.

Dial In On Time

I don’t know how much time I have lost in my life waiting on conference callers to join meetings, but it is definitely far too much. Even worse is where the person who is chairing it doesn’t dial in to get it started. Being stuck in the system with an automated voice telling you that the meeting hasn’t yet started is enough to drain the life out of you before you even get started. As the project manager you have the responsibility of making these meetings work and you are also the person with most to gain or lose from them. Put them in your diary well in advance and make sure that you don’t let anything force you to miss them or turn up late. Little details like this can make all the difference to whether or not they are successful meetings.

Look to Make Them Productive

If the previous points make it sound as though as though these virtual project team meetings are just obstacles to get out of the way then that wasn’t my objective. They also offer great chances to let your team members get to know one another and bond, and this is an opportunity which you need to seize. If you try and just get them out of the way as quickly as possible then you will be missing out on a lot of the potential benefits. Of course, as well as being productive these conference calls can also be fun and a refreshing break for everyone concerned. Try to keep them productive but lighthearted and you will find that they can play a big part in helping push the project along in the right direction.

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