building virtual teams shorter virtual meetings
Mar 31, 2020 Geoff Nelson Business, Innovation, New Normal, Resourcefulness, virtual team building 1 Comment

Work From Home Success Strategies (Part 5: Make Shorter Meetings)

building virtual teams shorter virtual meetings

By Christy Nelson

Streamline your meetings: communicate purpose, send agenda and materials beforehand, schedule how long each topic can be discussed, and stick to it.

What becomes a 30- or 60-minute meeting by default could be 20 or 45 with planning.

How to do this?

  1. Determine the purpose of the meeting. Do you need awareness? Information? A decision? Write out the meeting purpose and send it in your meeting invitation. Start your calls by verbally stating the meeting purpose.
  2. Create an agenda. Think of the key points to discuss and what’s needed for each point (e.g. decision, awareness, action).
  3. Time box all of it. Don’t be afraid to get this wrong. Put length of time next to each agenda item. Ask for a timekeeper on the call if needed, who is willing to say when you have 5 min and then 1 min left, and then time out. You can always make a new call for just the people who need to hash out details if a topic is bigger than anticipated.
  4. Write a decision record and email it to everyone. I’m not talking about meeting minutes. Pandemic or not, no one has time to read meeting minutes. I’m talking about a record that lists: attendance (who attended v invited), decisions made, actions identified including action owner, and date due. (Word of wisdom: avoid naming a decision maker when it’s a group decision. Trust me on this one; you’ll get better participation). Send this record within a day of your meeting. Mine usually say “reply all with corrections or additions by X date; otherwise this is the official record.”
  5. If there is material to present or share, send it out the day before and request people pre-read to come prepared. I’ve heard of meetings where attendees don’t get to speak if they haven’t done the pre-reading.

See if the list above can help you streamline your calls and give you a bit more time for family, pets, deep cleansing breaths, and getting other work done.

Want more top tips for virtual teams working from home? Start with Part 1

Christy Nelson has 25 years’ experience in IT program and project management, leading globally distributed teams. She has been working from home since 1999 when you needed 2 phone lines to support a dial-up modem and a phone call at the same time. She works for one of the big 5 consulting companies.

Questions about how RIDG can help you manage or scale your newly-remote teams? Send us an email at

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