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Most of my clients have adapted virtual meetings due to COVID-19.
COVID has had a significant impact on most businesses, making it more critical than ever to prioritize your team’s quarterly planning meeting.
Leaders worldwide have had master the ‘virtual strategic planning session’, and I share my six tips with you.
Here are some tips for having your next quarterly planning session if some (or all) of you team members have to join remotely. Strategic planning sessions can be very difficult to run on your own in person, let alone a virtual strategic planning session. My thirteen years of experience has allowed me to work with thousands of plans and I know the best practices that help your virtual team get aligned. The strategic planning process is often best left to the experts, especially if you are under pressure to hit the targets outlined in your business plan.
Even if some of you are in the same room, have everyone join the virtual meeting with a webcam turned on.
This will keep you all more engaged throughout the meeting and make it less tempting to multitask. This will allow you to read the body language of the participants and be able to encourage participation.
Don’t just push through the agenda as planned. Give the session more thought, and adjust the agenda to maximize the time and effectiveness of your team.
Be flexible as your team may seek to spend more time of certain topics.
If the thought of doing two straight days virtually is just too daunting, can you break your meeting up over the course of the week?
Remind everyone to stand up, do some stretching, and walk around a little every couple of hours at least.
If you have people joining remotely, do not rely on whiteboards and flip chart sheets. The virtual participants cannot see them and will be frustrated and distracted.
Use online collaboration tools instead, like Google Docs, where everyone can see, follow along, and add their input. Video conferencing and screen sharing help, but you have to make sure to be prepared with the proper visuals to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The facilitator should keep an eye on the virtual folks as well as the people in the room – are people checking out, glancing at emails, getting antsy? Be aware of when you may need to call everyone back to attention, take a break, or mix up the format of the discussion.
If you have two days, be sure to get feedback at the end of day 1 so you can make adjustments for day 2. Virtual planning meetings require you to be constantly reading the room and making adjustments.
To keep the team engaged, try some different formats. For example, maybe you can break the team up into smaller sub-teams of 2-4 people for some of the exercises (like writing Red-Yellow-Green on Priorities or voting on top Start, Stop, Keep ideas for the quarter).
Some virtual meeting tools, like Zoom, offer “Breakout Rooms” where you can divide virtual participants into smaller groups, which is like having a virtual planning session within your session, and then share the findings with the full team.
"Anna' is a champion. You don't often come across people with her enthusiasm and genuine interest in helping people. This is more than a job to her... it's her passion. Peter Salveson, CEO Hansen Yuncken.
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