Collaboration, Learning Community, Virtual Communities, virtual teaming

HOW TO: Virtually Team and Facilitate Meetings

Did you know you can meet and share with your colleagues and peers beyond an event, campus, or meeting? Perhaps you find a shared research project idea or a group of you had an idea sparked while at a conference to continue working on or you have a great colleague from afar you want to work with – then virtual teaming might help you stay connected and allow for collaboration. Through effective management of a remote team and hosting semi-regular virtual meetings, you can to provide updates, share ideas, and seek support for these new projects/initiatives. Regular meetings allow members of your community to connect and communicate beyond emails or the listserv.

Synchronous meetings allow you to deliver information, encourage discussion, and involve your communities or teams in a dynamic way! A remote/online meeting is more dynamic, structured way to connect beyond a  listserv or any social media channel. It is recommended to make these type of group meetings effective by having defined objectives and outcomes, an agenda, and a facilitator. To avoid “The Conference Call in Real Life” situation, here are a few suggestions to plan and organize the facilitation of a remote/online meeting. Or maybe you are Rethinking Office Hours in a distance/online way to meet the needs of your students, staff, and faculty — the possibilities are endless!

To work with your team from afar, you will not only have to consider meeting but also manage your work. Whether you are collaborating on research, developing a presentation, organizing a program or planning a conference — you should consider how you are going to virtually manage your team’s time and tasks. This #acpa16 Genius Lab resource will introduce you to tools and strategies to effectively share information and outline a few project management basics to help you collaborate more effectively.

The “HOW TO” Steps

  1. Planning a viable agenda or series of agendas. Identify your purpose of the meeting, what you will discuss & the agenda structure, e.g. information, open discussion, updates.
  2. Effective use of technology. Try out and experiment with your technological applications and platforms in advance, so you are familiar with how they work & troubleshooting. Be sure to include any instructions to your community members on how they will have to log in or access your meeting space and materials.
  3. Preparing participants and pre-work or pre-meeting information. By sending information in advance helps to prepare your participants for the meeting by letting them read materials, review the agenda, and prepare items to talk about or ask questions on. Emailing a reminder with this information makes for a more functional remote/online meeting.
  4. Keeping participants focused and engaged. During your remote/online meeting, think about adding in a poll or survey question, provide a space for open discussion, consider other ways participants can “talk” at the meeting, e.g. Instant Message, chat functions, within the open, shared Google Doc, etc. Consider assigning roles during the meeting, such as meeting minutes, rotating chair/timekeeper, point-person or project leads, etc.
  5. Building trust and social capital. Establish a rapport with your team or group members at meetings during the in-person meeting (if possible) or through ongoing communication between meetings on the listserv or a social media platform. Get to know your members, and allow them to get to know you! Continue this beyond the face-to-face (F2F) time to build rapport.Remember to include introductions and/or an icebreaker during your meeting. Suggestions included the References (Ericksen, 2012).
  6. Maintaining momentum between meetings. The discussion and development within your community do not have to end at the close of a meeting. Encourage meetings to plan projects (webinar, research, writing, etc.) during the in-between times & leave space on the next agenda to report in & for progress updates.
    • Encourage members to follow up or reach out to you with ideas or suggestions after the meeting as well.
    • If there are multiple projects within your community, you might want to utilize a shared space like Dropbox and/or a wiki to keep all the information and developments in one central location for an easy leadership transition.

*NOTE: Consider the remote/online conferencing tools and meeting resources in advance. How you will facilitate interaction and dialogue before, during, and after your online/remote meeting? How you will engage your participants? When can they comment, give feedback or ask questions? Think about the types of interaction and needs for your meeting when deciding on your Meeting Collaboration Tools. Also, consider options you might have available at your own institution for meeting platforms and applications – ask and learn!

BONUS: Check out the Why We Collaborate NPR TED Radio Hour for MORE ideas about collaborating with your virtual team.

A Few Meeting Collaboration Tools & Resources:

References

Chavanu, B. (2013, July 6). Online meeting guide: Software and strategy. Make Use Of. Retrieved from http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/online-meeting-guide-software-and-strategy/

Craemer, M. (2014, March 2). 7 tips for effective conference calls. Seattle PI. Retrieved from http://blog.seattlepi.com/workplacewrangler/2014/03/02/7-tips-for-effective-conference-calls/

Ericksen, C. (2012, May 2). Eight great ice-breakers for online meetings. Cisco Blog. Retrieved from http://blogs.cisco.com/home/eight-great-icebreakers-for-online-meetings

Fried, J. (2010, October). Why work doesn’t happen at work. TEXxMidwest https://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work

Hogan, J. (2015, March 15). 25 ways educators across the country are using Google Hangouts. The Compelled Educator. Retrieved from http://thecompellededucator.blogspot.com/2015/03/24-ways-educators-across-country-are.html

Schindler, E. (2008, February 15). Running an effective teleconference or virtual meeting. CIO. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2437139/collaboration/running-an-effective-teleconference-or-virtual-meeting.html

Thomas, F. (2010, December 20). 5 tips for conducting a virtual meeting. Inc. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/12/5-tips-for-conducting-a-virtual-meeting.html

Wolf, L. (2010, October 13). How to host an effective virtual meeting. California Digital Library INFO News. Retrieved from http://www.cdlib.org/cdlinfo/2010/10/13/how-to-host-an-effective-virtual-meeting/

Young, J. (2009). Six critical success factors for running a successful virtual meeting. Facilitate.com Retrieved from https://www.facilitate.com/support/facilitator-toolkit/docs/Six-Critical-Success-Factors-for-Successful-Virtual-Meetings.pdf

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