Five pointers to start running productive virtual meetings

In today’s legal landscape, virtual meetings allow your practice to work across different time zones, diverse locations, support multi-gen teams and improve work-life flexibility.

Yet, despite these obvious benefits, many law firms rarely run virtual meetings unless their client specifically requests it.

These five tips are designed to help you overcome some of these barriers to entry and embrace virtual meetings.

1. Check what you already have access to

If your firm subscribes to Microsoft Office 365 (as many do) you already the perfect tool for connecting your teams and graduates across locations and timelines: Skype for Business.

Skype4B is an incredibly powerful communication tool that lets legal professionals connect via voice call, video call, voice or video conferencing, and content sharing. It’s easy and economical to use, and can be installed on PC’s, Macs, laptops, Tablets, iPad/iPhones and Android Phones – all without the need for a desk phone.

2. Make your purpose clear

Running a successful meeting often depends on decisions you make before even sending out invitations.

Creating an agenda will ensure your meetings are short and productive, as well as shaping people’s view of success.

Start by having a clear idea of how you want a meeting to influence attendees and then take five minutes to define the purpose of your meeting before you send out invites. This can save your colleagues hours of time lost to boredom or indifference.

As people discover your meetings are organised and efficient, attendee acceptance and participation will increase – and you’ll look good too!

3. Keep your meetings simple

Simple meetings have a simple purpose (as above) and are short (as below). Make sure you resist the temptation to cover everything. Ask yourself, ‘What matters most?’. You can’t please everyone, so be confident in setting limits.

Often, this means identifying what is important vs urgent. Urgent things have a way of dominating conversation – but identify the one thing you really want understood or decided on at the end of the meeting and stick to it. That’s your important item!

Identify what will NOT happen. If you know your meeting is going to touch on a ‘hot’ topic or an interconnected matter that could side-track discussion, it can be a good idea to remind attendees discussion will be limited to what’s on the agenda. Clear direction is a big help in achieving outcomes.

Finally, keep your agenda concise and make action points stand out. You can set realistic goals with a short list of agreed actions – this makes it easier for attendees to sign off with a sense of purpose and success.

4. Check your tech

Online meetings can be derailed by the smallest of errors, so check you setup before you start your meeting.

  • Are the speakers and video working on your device?
  • If you send invitations through Skype4B to an attendee or ‘guest’ with an Apple device, double-check that the Skype link will work for them.
  • Can you connect remotely to your Boardroom TV?
  • Do all attendees know how to ‘share’ their screen?
  • Can you access Internet in the room you will be using?
  • Do you know how to share a screen AND keep your real time chats confidential?
  • Not sure what to do? Check out itro’s short ‘how to’ videos here.

5. Set time limits

Short meetings are good meetings. Whenever possible, set specific start and end times.

Think about your audience: eg, seniority, availability, aptitude, generational preferences, time zone. Select a length and time of day invitees will feel comfortable to accept.

Reward attendance by sticking to your timeline. If further discussion is needed, arrange a new meeting time.

6. Create respectful environment

Making sure everyone is on the same wavelength come meeting time will help improve respect and strengthen teamwork.

Start by sharing relevant details or documents 24 to 48 hours before a meeting (we recommend Microsoft Teams, a brilliant tool built into the Office 365 suite).

To help keep everyone on the same page during meetings, utilise screen sharing. This reduces confusion and time lost to questions such as, “Where are we?” or, “Hold up, I’m not on the right page.” If you plan on sharing your screen, it’s important to turn off all notifications to avoid everyone seeing annoying or private announcements!
Finally, give everyone an opportunity to contribute by asking individuals if they have anything to add, or have any further questions. This simple courtesy helps everyone feel involved and a valued part of your team.

Further reading

If you’re interested, Itro has a range of articles on running online meetings:

About Itro

itro is an IT Support Company, managing every aspect of your IT and communication needs, onsite and remotely. It doesn’t matter what size your business is, our goal is to find a solution that fits your organisation. We stand out as different by offering honest, plain speaking IT Support.

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