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Element #3: Decide which meeting format will work best

How many times do you participate in a meeting and think, that could have been a phone call or I really wish we could have met in person? One of the key elements to conducting effective meetings is to figure out the type of meeting needed to accomplish your purpose and engage the attendees most needed for the meeting. Over the past 20 months, we have defaulted into a “video chat” for most of our meetings and while that is a great option for some meetings, it doesn’t work best for every meeting. Join me this week as I provide three questions to consider when planning the format of your next meeting.

What do you want to accomplish during your meeting?

If you want to work on a document or product with a small group, then hosting a meeting that is a video chat with screen sharing makes sense. When you are connecting one-on-one with a colleague you know well, a phone call may work well. One of the bonus opportunities of a phone call is that you can take a walk and take care of your health too! 🙂 If you are sharing information or providing training, a webinar may be a good fit. Strategic and action planning is usually best during an in-person meeting or a video chat with facilitated breakouts on topics of interest. As you reflect upon your meeting purpose and what you want to accomplish, let that guide you into which format makes sense.

Where are your meeting attendees located?

If you are trying to connect with people in multiple cities, counties, states or countries, most of these meetings must be virtual (with or without a pandemic)! Since we have experienced the ability to connect virtually in unique ways over the past 20 months, we have been able to engage with some people who were never able to participate in-person previously. Also, as you plan a meeting, consider whether some aspects of the meeting could be virtual and other aspects could be in person. I am currently working with a group located throughout the U.S. to develop an action plan around a specific topic. The first few meetings will be virtual to provide the context, planning and information needed to prepare for one large in-person meeting later next year. This multi-meeting format will allow us to engage as many attendees as possible and only ask the attendees to travel to one one-day meeting that will be very focused on discussion and action.

Which platforms work best for your attendees?

Consider the technology available, wifi connections, comfortability with interacting on a platform and the preferences of your meeting attendees when selecting your meeting platform. For some attendees, they can be flexible and adaptable to multiple different platforms. However, for other attendees, one software may work better than another for them. In my experience with video chats, Zoom tends to work better for most of my attendees than Microsoft Teams. When it comes to document sharing, Teams works better for internal groups but Microsoft OneDrive works better for sharing with external groups. In order to decide what type of meeting to host and how to interact with your attendees, take time to ask which works best. 

What about you? As you consider your next meeting, what format would work best considering what you want to accomplish and who needs to attend?

If you would like more resources on conducting effective coalition meetings, check out my Effective Meeting Checklist!

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