Leading Impactful Meetings During Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

Companies around the world are invoking travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus. This means more virtual meetings and leading from a distance.

Here are five tips, tricks and hacks to help you maximize your leadership impact in this time of restricted travel:

  • Make the world feel smaller. Creating a sense of closeness and connection when physical meetings aren’t possible is critical. This mean being intentional about all your communication choices. Think critically about the “Who, what, where, when, why, and how.” Be sure to share your meeting objectives and purpose early and at the beginning of your meeting. Leverage omni-channel communications including written, video, collaboration platforms, etc. Finally, create an inclusive virtual experience by managing meeting size and inserting intentional opportunities for interaction and discussion.
  • Sharpen your tech skills. Learn the platforms that you’ll be hosting meetings on, whether it’s Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, or any number of others. Figure out how to schedule, start/stop, mute yourself and others, use chat and polling features, and share your presenter screen. Don’t let your lack of technology savvy slow down the meeting. Poor technology management is distracting for meeting participants, it wastes time and it chips away at your credibility as a leader.
  • Enforce virtual meeting etiquette. Less than half of all virtual meetings are run exceptionally well. Know the etiquette and model the behaviors. Announce yourself when you join a meeting. Welcome others as they join. Start and end on-time. Make sure slides are projecting well in advance. Provide verbal transitions to “tee-up” other speakers, topics, and transitions. Ask people to mute if they don't have proper "meeting manners" and mute them if they don't monitor their own noise.
  • Break down silos. Inquire across functions and departments if your management systems and meetings need to change to accommodate cross-functional networks that would have otherwise been built in in-person meetings, academies, or events.
  • Think rich, not lean. Influencing followers from afar requires rich communication. This means choosing richer communication channels like video over voice whenever possible. Leaders should also put a personal touch on meetings to encourage rich discussion. Finally, establishing trust and psychological safety on calls—which takes time—will help to maximize participation. Don’t be afraid of silence, but seek to encourage rich participation. 

With any luck, travel restrictions will be short-lived. In the meantime, use this opportunity to sharpen your virtual leadership skills and drive performance through effective virtual meetings. For more tips, check out my book, Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Leave a comment below and let others know what virtual leadership practices are helping your team. 

Chris Groscurth, Ph.D.

Chris Groscurth, Ph.D., is author of Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For the past 20 years he has worked as a researcher and strategic advisor to leaders across healthcare, finance, manufacturing, government and education. In addition to his consulting work, Chris addresses thousands of leaders annually through speaking engagements and workshops. Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions with Gallup, the University of Michigan, and Trinity Health. Chris currently leads Stryker's global learning design and development team, shaping the future of leadership in a high-growth medical technology company. Chris received his doctorate in human communication processes from the University of Georgia and has bachelor's and master's degrees in human communication studies from Western Michigan University.

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