How to Effectively Lead Virtual Meetings
“People can practice SOCIAL STYLE® concepts even when they work remotely. In fact, the remote working we’ve all been encouraged to do now has given us a new window into things we perhaps didn’t see with the people that we were working with before.”
Running effective meetings can be one of the most challenging aspects of working virtually, because it’s difficult to manage how and when team members should contribute. You can’t always get a read on people’s behaviors when viewing them on a “Brady Bunch”-like grid of faces.
Because you’re sensing less about their opinions and reactions during the meeting than you would sitting around a conference table together, here are some strategies to help you understand and manage the different Style behaviors during virtual meetings:
During virtual meetings, Driving Style people are likely to make their presence known. They will not hesitate to talk and will typically focus on task-related matters such as plans, priorities and deadlines. Because there is often less structure to virtual meetings and less clarity of roles, they may try to dominate conversations even more than in person. Lengthy virtual meetings can be frustrating for them, so they might try to rush through topics in an effort to meet their own needs.
Planning ahead is important for managing virtual meetings, and a clear agenda will help meet the Driving Style person’s needs. If they are asserting themselves to the exclusion of others, step in as team leader and call on others to offer their opinions. Do this in a non-confrontational way that communicates that other people’s opinions are important. If necessary, tell these individuals that you will address their needs during an individual meeting rather than during the team meeting.
During virtual team meetings, Expressive Style people are likely to be among the most talkative. They will attempt to be personable with the team, often sharing stories about themselves and encouraging others to do the same. They often focus on people rather than tasks, and this will be reflected in the issues they discuss. Be cautious about allowing for too little structure in your meetings, since these individuals can dominate discussions and can stray from the purposes of the meeting.
Though they can be quite talkative, do not needlessly stifle them during meetings. This will frustrate them, and they may move into their Backup Behavior of attacking. Try to achieve a balance of allowing them to express themselves while also maintaining focus on the meeting objectives.
Expressive Style people can sometimes be unprepared for meetings and may try to rely on their personalities or charm to carry them through. Prior to meetings, clearly communicate each individual’s responsibilities and accountabilities. This will help keep them on track and stay aware of their responsibilities to the team.
During virtual team meetings, Amiable Style people will generally be less talkative than Driving or Expressive Style people. They will participate, but may only contribute when their input is directly sought, or to fill in the spaces between more talkative members. Because of this, it will be important for you to find ways to involve them in meetings. This can be done by developing ground rules or processes whereby all team members are expected to contribute to meetings.
During discussions, Amiable Style people will often focus on people issues rather than tasks. They are concerned with how team decisions or actions will affect people. In typical interactions, they can spend quite a bit of time socializing instead of focusing on team business. During virtual meetings this is less likely due to the restrictions of phone conversations. However, keep in mind that socializing is important for these people; it keeps them enthused and motivated. So build in some time during virtual meetings for team members to enjoy some personal banter and conversation before focusing on the objectives.
During virtual meetings, Analytical Style people will often be quiet, particularly if there are other team members who are more talkative. When they do speak, they will focus on tasks and information related to work topics, with very little discussion of people. The best way to involve them is to explicitly ask them for their opinions and input. This can be a ground rule of your meetings and is particularly valuable for these individuals since they may otherwise stay silent.
These people can become disengaged if they feel that the team is ignoring important information or pressing them for too many immediate decisions. If this is the case, Analytical Style people may withdraw and not actively contribute to the discussion. This can be difficult to realize within virtual settings, and others may take over the conversation without realizing that these individuals are not on board. Again, encourage them to share their thoughts and listen carefully to what they say. Before the meeting has ended, take time to verify that everyone has said the things they needed to say.
Meetings are a necessary means to cascading information throughout your organization and maintaining engagement among coworkers. Running them successfully in a virtual environment requires you to change your behavior to work most effectively with all your team members’ Styles.
TRACOM offers virtual training options for all of our Social Intelligence training programs. Learn how you can implement our world-class learning platforms into your organization here.