With everything that is happening around the world, teams now face the challenge of doing most of their work virtually. Although some will do this effortlessly, it will take more learning for others. As The Liberators, we collaborate with people from all over the world. Virtual meetings are an essential platform for this. Over the years, we’ve developed and learned a lot of practices that may be beneficial to your own adventures with virtual collaboration.
In this post, we share our tips for making virtual meetings a useful, productive and engaging experience. We owe a lot to the people we’ve worked with over the years and who inspired us, like Fisher Qua, Anna Jackson, Karen Dawson, and Julie Huffaker.
1. Start with a personal connection
In order to have an effective meeting, it’s important to first create personal connections. Even when people are already familiar with each other, it helps to build safety and personal connection with the other participants. This is even more important in virtual calls, where other participants are pixels on a screen.
In this call with 4 participants, we asked everyone to google the cover of a book they’re currently reading, and paste it into a shared Google Presentation. We then gave everyone 1 minute to talk about what they liked about that book. It took 10 minutes.
As a rule, we always start any virtual interaction with an opportunity to make a personal connection. Over the years, we’ve accumulated several nice ways to do this.
- Ask everyone to get a physical object that represents something that is important to them. Then, allow everyone to share their object for a minute. If you have a group of more than 5-6 people, you can use break-out rooms (see below) to do this in smaller groups.
- Use a virtual version of Mad Tea to get the thinking started. We often use a shared chat window (or Slack) for this. The host reads a sentence (e.g. “I admit that I ….”) and asks everyone to type in a response. On a signal from the host, everyone hits enter. We repeat this a few times with different sentences (e.g. “One nagging question I have is …” or “Something that made me laugh is …”). Afterward, we ask everyone to scroll up through the responses and share salient patterns.
- Ask everyone to take a piece of paper and draw their experience of a shared challenge with the symbols from Drawing Together. In turn, ask everyone to share their drawing. Or collect it in a shared document.
- Ask everyone to go on Spotify or YouTube to find a song that’s been in their head. Paste the album cover or the song into a shared slide. Give everyone two minutes to play a sample of the song and to share what they like about it.
2. Make it interactive (with Liberating Structures)
Even more so than with regular meetings, it’s very hard to …read more
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