Could your organisation’s virtual and hybrid meeting practices do with some tweaks?

Virtual and hybrid meetings are not about to disappear
 Have you ever thought, even before the pandemic, that meeting practices in your workplace could do with a bit of improvement?

While someone else chairs the meetings you organise, and it’s colleagues and other stakeholders who vote on decisions during meetings, astute assistants can have significant impacts on meeting effectiveness.

 
Crises bring opportunities

If you’d like to positively influence the success and effectiveness of the meetings you arrange, attend and record, this point in time provides the ideal opportunity.

We won’t soon forget how suddenly and significantly our meeting practices changed in 2020. As people around the globe began working remotely, virtual meetings became a fact of life. You and your colleagues had to quickly adapt and become familiar with new meeting platforms and technology.

 
A time for flexibility

We’re continuing to need to be flexible on multiple fronts. I returned this past weekend from 19 days in the US, having headed there the morning after my virtual presentation and live chat at the Exec Support TECH conference.  In Chicago, I gave three presentations at APC, the Administrative Professionals Conference. From there, I travelled to New York City.  This stay in Manhattan was going to be a three-day stopover before presenting live in Toronto for Canada’s 22nd Annual Administrative Professionals Conference.

 
COVID realities were such, though, that we shifted mid-September to a virtual mode for the Canadian conference. Rather than switching my flight from New York-Toronto to New York-Vancouver and presenting after three or four hours of sleep, I made arrangements with one of my favourite Manhattan hotels, the InterContinental New York Barclay, to stay there. Hotel staff were very helpful in ensuring I could deliver my two presentations to assistants attending the Canadian conference live from a room with strong wi fi and good natural light. Extending my stay in New York was far better for participants than the alternative, which would have seen me presenting to them bleary-eyed from travel and a change in time zone. Another upside: I was able to spend more time exploring a city I love! Those who watch my Instagram feed will know I’ve begun sharing some photos and videos from both Chicago and New York.
What assistants are experiencing
Conversations with assistants at both the American and Canadian conference were consistent with the early results from my latest Weekend Poll. I’m leaving this poll open a little longer, so there’s still time to add your voice.  It’s clear from early results – and from conversations with assistants amid these two most recent conferences  – that virtual meetings are not going away any time soon. As well, hybrid meetings are on the rise. 
 
Hybrid meetings may be relatively new to some, yet I was organising and recording them as early as five or six years ago. Working with a board of directors, getting a group of in demand people together in the same room at the same time could often be challenging. Over time, it became increasingly practical to conduct certain committee meetings with a hybrid model. For display purposes, we had two large flat screens mounted on one wall of the room. Some of us would gather around the conference room table, while other participants connected from laptops in other cities, countries and continents. For one board orientation session, one of our incoming directors joined us from India.

Now, in the home stretch of 2021, we have a mix of people working in both traditional and remote environments. Going forward, our new norms are likely to involve a mix of meeting formats. Increasingly, assistants need to be proficient in supporting virtual and hybrid meetings on different platforms, as well as good old in person meetings.
 
What would you like to see change?
Do you remember pre-pandemic meetings? Even then, you may have sat through meetings where you identified inefficiencies or thought there must be ways to make meeting time increasingly effective. I’ve experienced this in my career. The thing is, not everyone likes change; it can be difficult setting the wheels in motion, even with great ideas in mind.
 
One thing about functioning during a global pandemic is that people have become increasingly accustomed to a climate of change. This can be an ideal opportunity to begin a fresh conversation about meeting practices, and to collaborate on identifying and implementing changes to support meeting effectiveness as well as efficiencies.
 
 A proactive and collaborative approach to best practices
As meeting practices continue to evolve, assistants can take a lead in the conversation on the adoption of best practices for meetings – whatever the meeting format. Some assistants have already begun to do so. On the other hand, 35% of respondents to my latest Weekend Poll said they’ve not yet had discussions with their principals (bosses) on the effectiveness of their virtual or hybrid meeting practices.

Has your organisation identified and documented best practices for the conduct of virtual or hybrid meetings? As of today’s date, 28% of respondents to this latest poll have been able to reply affirmatively; another 12% said their organisations are actively working on this.
 
Looking for ideas? Join me October 13th or November 2nd, 2021
 
 
Join me to look at strategies, technology tips and protocols to help position colleagues for effective meetings – and help you shine. You can learn more and register on my Eventbrite page,  https://exceptionalea.eventbritestudio.com/

We’ll look at success strategies, including rethinking agendas and logistics. Meeting dynamics and protocols form part of the discussion. In this 90-minute course, we’ll also look at technology tips that can benefit you and your colleagues. 

 
Knowing that many readers are in different time zones, assistants have 90-day access to the recording of our  live webinar. As a participant, you’ll receive a certificate for your professional development portfolio. You’ll also have a PDF companion workbook, for use during the live course and/or which watching the recording as you prepare to raise the discussion and collaborate with colleagues for successful meetings.

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