5 Ways to Take Over a Virtual Meeting
On any given day in the United States, according to a recent article in Fast Company, more than 10 million business meetings take place in various forms – in person, by phone, online or some combination of all three. In a country with millions of companies and more than a 100 million workers in various roles, that number may not seem very high.
But the issue with meetings isn’t quantity, it’s quality. Productivity is the key. A Bain & Company study cited by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) found one meeting of mid-level managers per week could cost an organization as much as $15 million per year.
Even if your company devotes a fraction of that type of money to meetings, it’s an investment in time and resources no organization should take lightly – especially in the current digital business environment.
Mobile Virtual Meetings Helping Meeting Efficiency
Today, mobile conferencing is transforming how we work and leading into other types of collaboration that mix multiple media modes into one virtual setting. In this situation, even mundane business conversations, such as regular updates, take careful planning and varying delivery techniques to facilitate efficient discussions and effective outcomes. And as more and more of us work more and more often from home offices, hotel rooms or quiet corners in coffee shops, we’ve become more and more dependent on virtual meetings for our professional success.
What if your boss isn’t very good at leading virtual meetings?
“Few managers or supervisors have mastered the art of meetings and even fewer organizations have made it a priority,” corporate consultant and trainer Paul Axtell writes in a recent column for HBR. Add to that the fact that leaders are busy — and often don’t have the time to prepare adequately — and you’ve got a recipe for ineffective meetings.”
Axtell, whose work was featured in our post “7 Conversations to Help Make the Most of Your Meetings,” believes, “You have a right to ask for whatever you need to be effective in the meeting.” And sometimes that something could be taking the helm.
“Organizations need effective meetings — it matters less who leads them,” Axtell asserts in his HBR piece. “The ability to run meetings is a core competency, and someone in your group needs to be good at it.” Even if your boss has time to prepare for meetings and has an excellent conversational style, Axtell says there may be many reasons you could be the best person to run a meeting – even if you’re a full-time remote worker.
Taking Over Virtual Meetings for the Sake of Efficiency and Productivity
But no matter your argument for taking over virtual meetings, making the case to your boss can be tricky when you and your boss rarely sit in the same room, building or even city. Gauging your boss’ willingness to concede the lead can be challenging without nonverbal cues, such as body language, that are readily apparent when face-to-face.
So, Axtell offers five ways to phrase some leadership-related reasons for your boss to cede control of meetings at least on occasion. And in our opinion, each point is compelling, whether you pitch them in person, by phone, via email, or as an instant text message:
1. Active Listening
“If you have to focus on managing the conversation, your attention is diverted from listening in a profound way.”
2. Focused Attention
“Your attention to each and every person in the group matters, especially when they are speaking about something they feel passionate or upset about.”
3. Unique Perspective
“You have an organizational perspective that others don’t have. If you are participating rather than leading, you’ll have a better sense of when adding this perspective would be useful.”
4. Deliberative Posture
“When you add your thinking to the wrap-up for each topic, it gives you the opportunity to capture the value from the discussion and influence what happens next.”
5. Immediate Reflection
“People need [your] feedback. Sharing with them what you notice in the moment is always useful, and if you are not leading the meeting, you’re able to notice more.”
Earning your boss’ trust in this matter may take some time, Axtell counsels, but considering the business investment at stake the effect is worth the effort: “Whether or not you’re in charge, there’s always room to improve meetings. It’s worth thinking through who’s the most effective person to lead your meetings, so the whole team can get more done.”