As a regular reader of Dan Rockwell’s Leadership Freak blog, I finally won a free book! I was fortunate to receive Making Virtual Work. How to Build Performance and Relationships by Betty Johnson, Ph.D.

This is a short book (87 pages) packed with great information on how to hold better meetings in our virtual world. Here are a few points I picked up from the book.

  1. Plan ahead. The day before your virtual meeting – send to the attendees the goals of the meeting and the agenda. Give backstory, where it will help. One point I was slow to pick up on, as a leader, was some associates WANT to get this information, so they can do their preparation! I can go “seat of the pants” in most situations, but there are others (think of a bell curve) who want time to prepare and plan their thoughts. In today’s “virtual world” let’s give people time to plan.
  2. Meaningful meetings. Meeting exhaustion is real & leads to poor morale. Dr. Johnson says, “On average, twelve hours of video meetings in one week is the maximum number tolerable before emotional exhaustion firmly sets in.” Let that sink in…  12 hours for emotional exhaustion to FIRMLY set in. I don’t take that to mean I should schedule 12 hours every week. A number somewhat lower should be considered. I have friends doing virtual meetings for 4+ hours most days. It wears them out!
  3. Camera on? When I was leading my team at a foodservice distributor, I always wanted to have the camera on! I wanted to see everyone, and it helped me stay connected. What I didn’t realize is the burden of constantly being on camera is for others. I don’t have to worry if I look professional. I throw on a golf shirt, go to my office and can start a meeting.  Others are in the dining room, with kids running around, and it takes more to put on their game face & get their hair ready. They may not want to be on camera. Dr. Johnson talks about how to customize your approach to your team.
  4. Meeting breaks. How often should you take breaks during a meeting? Dr. Johnson has ideas here around asking your team what they want when it comes to breaks. Don’t let the vocal few speak for everyone.

In short, I learned a bit about leadership from this book. If you are running virtual meetings think about what you can do better to help your team perform their best!

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