We’ve all experienced them. One of those meetings that could have been an email. Or lasted forever because everyone went on tangents. Or was entirely unproductive and required the group to get together again.
Sometimes meetings are a fun opportunity to meet with your coworkers, especially if you work remotely and don’t see their faces every day, but they can also be the bane of working in the business world. To make virtual meetings run smoothly, it’s crucial to have an agenda. Agendas help keep participants on track and ensure everyone can make the most of the conversation. There are right and wrong ways to plan a schedule, though, so let’s dive into how you can efficiently create an agenda for a virtual team meeting.
The first step to devising a virtual team meeting agenda is to determine what the meeting is for. This step may sound obvious, but many professionals call their employees or coworkers together without a clear goal in mind. The result is a meandering discussion that wastes everyone’s time.
Why are you calling everyone together? A conference call is necessary if you need to have a conversation about a business objective or present essential information. Still, you can find another method of communication if it’s something you can quickly write up. Perhaps your meeting is to review quarterly results and discuss how to improve, revitalize your brand, or plan OKRs. You’ll have much more direction once you know what you want to accomplish with the call.
Yes, it’s important to select a meeting location, even if you’re working remotely. You may assume that everyone will choose to work from home or a co-working space — why does location matter if everyone is in different places, anyway? — but you have another option: walking meetings. Typical video conferencing platforms often require participants to sit somewhere with reliable Internet, but humans aren’t meant to sit every day for eight to nine hours at a time. Any opportunity to get up and move is a good one, so suggest taking the meeting outside while using a tool like Spot. You don’t have to worry about fidgeting on camera, and it allows you to add movement to your workday and get some fresh air.
Estimate how long your conference call will take so everyone can plan for it in their calendars. Try to overestimate to allow for cushion time in case the conversation takes longer than you expect — it’s better to overdo it than schedule a 30-minute time slot that ends up being an hour. Even a brainstorm meeting agenda should consider how long everyone will spend generating ideas. You’ll help everyone schedule their days and they’ll appreciate not having to rush through the meeting.
Once you have a meeting goal or two in mind, think of discussion points to help you accomplish them. Allot a timeframe for each topic so that the meeting falls within the schedule you planned for. These discussion points comprise the bulk of your virtual meeting agenda:
In what order will you address each talking point, and how long do you expect each to take? Divide the call’s agenda into sections, so you don’t spend too long talking about any one topic, and arrange them in an order that drives the overall conversation toward your ultimate goal. Assign someone the role of clock monitor to make sure no section runs overtime and keep everyone on track if the conversation starts to diverge from the meeting’s purpose.
Part of planning a virtual meeting agenda is making sure the right people are there — and only the right people. This doesn’t mean that your meeting is an exclusive club, but you don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Don’t invite someone to whom the meeting’s objectives aren’t relevant — they could be using their time for more important things. At least two-thirds of the subjects discussed during the conference call should be pertinent to everyone included in it. Otherwise, catch everyone else up later via email or a Slack message.
Send the meeting agenda to all participants before the conference so they can prepare themselves. Whether it’s compiling relevant data, designs, or points they want to bring up, your meeting will be more productive if everyone shows up confidently. Plus, letting everyone know what to expect will help you stay on schedule.
If you need to create an agenda for a virtual team meeting, remember how similar conference calls are to in-person gatherings, and plan a schedule that drives your discussion closer toward the meeting’s ultimate goal.