Hosting online meetings requires you to wear a lot of hats and juggle lots of moving parts, but if you constantly find yourself running out of time, losing engagement or getting off track, your online meetings may be missing this key person.
Why You Need a Meeting Yoda
How do you ensure your meetings stay on track? Assign a Yoda, says the author of How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting in the Harvard Business Review.
A Yoda, a master of meetings, an engagement guru, a productivity ninja…essentially, you need a designated meeting facilitator. Among many responsibilities, this person’s job is to:
- Make sure everyone participates and actively listens. This could mean regularly asking questions or reminding everyone to refrain from multitasking. And when the creativity feels stale, the facilitator can have questions or exercises at the ready to rev up the group’s creative energy.
- Facilitate an open and honest conversation. Sometimes your teammates can turn into yes-men, and it’s up to the facilitator to say, “What do you really think?” every once and awhile. At the end of meetings, facilitators also solicit feedback to make the next meeting better.
- Reel in negative meeting behaviors. When the conversation gets off topic, you need someone to remind everyone of the meeting goals, and if the debate gets too one-sided or too heated, they’re the one to call out participants and resolve conflicts.
- Reinforce meeting guidelines. Time’s up? Your meeting facilitator can help your group better manage time during meetings. Trying a new format? They’ll take charge of making sure everyone plays along.
Why It’s not You
If you’re the one hosting the meeting, you’re in charge of scheduling the meeting, setting objectives, leading the discussion, making decisions and assigning the next steps. Most meeting hosts think they should take on the role of facilitator, too, but it’s often a better idea to make that a separate role from being the meeting host.
Managing all of these variables is task enough, and ideally, the role of meeting facilitator should be an impartial party. As the meeting leader, you’re more vested in what the outcome is, and in turn, you have a more biased view in terms of how the meeting should run.
Alternatively, with a neutral party guiding the conversation, people are more likely to believe the facilitator is being fair and, in turn, are more likely to be responsive and respectful of their suggestions.
Assigning meeting roles, like a facilitator, is just one way to make your meetings more productive, but before you divvy out roles, have you asked yourself whether you really even need to hold a meeting? Follow this meeting flowchart to help you decide.
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