How to conduct effective virtual meetings

By Dorie Clark, Microsoft Guest Author

Many leaders know how to conduct good meetings in person – have a clear agenda and stick to it, don’t allow participants to ramble, and the like. Nowadays, however, an increasing number of meetings are taking place online, and there’s far less guidance about how to conduct web meetings effectively.

Here are three key points to keep in mind if you’re tapped to run an online meeting.

First, if the attendees haven’t met before in person, make sure to allocate time at the beginning of your web meeting for introductions. And even if your team knows each other well, it can be useful to spend a couple of minutes as people are logging on engaging in small talk about what the weather is like where they are, or how their recent travel has been.

This may seem wasteful – why not just get down to business? – but a few minutes invested in building team rapport can pay dividends. As the eminent psychologist Robert Cialdini told me when I interviewed him, “A weakness of Americans is that we tend not to do what is done in many other cultures – spending sociable time interacting with other people so there is a context of commonality recognized by both parties, so subsequent interactions go more smoothly.”

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