It’s not uncommon for many associations’ to work with a virtual staff. And while this arrangement works for many groups, it can make collaborative work challenging. That’s why frequent virtual meetings are essential to a successful management strategy.

Before we dive into tactics for a successful virtual meeting, check out our post from last week on handling difficult “meeting personalities”. You know, the types of people who derail your meetings constantly? Reign them in with these 4 tactics.

Virtual meetings can be difficult for a few reasons:

  • Lack of face to face connection removes social cues to know if someone is confused, lost or interested
  • Challenging to establish equal talking opportunities for each participant
  • Absence of body language makes it easy to forget
  • Technological interruptions
  • Hard to develop trust without face to face interaction

Don’t feel bad if you struggle with more than one of these issues. It’s natural when first starting out. To help you regain control of your virtual meetings, we’ve compiled a few tactics that not only help you be more productive but save time as well.

1. Establish a detailed agenda

Keep meeting participants on track by publishing a detailed agenda ahead of time. If everyone knows what needs to be covered, it’s less likely the conversation will be sidetracked. To go one step further, add a time limit and manager on each item. Just be sure you’re realistic about your goals for the meeting.

2. Designate meeting roles

Assign meeting roles that will ensure productivity and clarity. Below we’ve outlined 3 positions you can assign at your next virtual meeting.

  • The notetaker: Accurately track discussions and meeting notes for future reference.
  • The schedule manager: Closely watch the time and it’s conjunction with set agenda. Politely interject when the group has surpassed the allotted time.
  • The facilitator: Direct the conversation by asking the right questions, encouraging discussion and summarizing key points.

3. Send out to-dos in advance

Instead of hoping your participants comes prepared, send out to-dos 2 or 3 days before the meeting. Be clear on what you hope to accomplish so no one is blindsided by your expectations. This tactic is especially helpful on projects that have lost momentum.

4. End of meeting summary

End every meeting with a short summary and what’s coming up next. Even if it feels repetitive, it will help your colleagues remember what was discussed and their upcoming to-dos.