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Effective, inclusive meetings for remote teams: Advice roundup

The era of the remote meeting is officially upon us. Though you may have dabbled in the practice previously, you’re now probably neck-deep in meetings with people who only appear from the neck up.

So how do you make the most of them? A number of reliable sources have weighed in with answers. Here’s a few suggestions from our favorites, with links to their full stories.

Harvard Business Review: What it takes to run a great virtual meeting

When everyone is working remotely, there’s a new, and perhaps unappreciated, need to reestablish familiar dynamics. For that, HBR suggests you use an icebreaker: “Although we’re not big fans of them, it’s important to use every tool to reinforce interpersonal relationships when people may be feeling isolated. Also, it’s important to know if a participant may have a close friend or relative fighting the virus, so some type of ‘check in’ is in order.”

It’s important to use every tool to reinforce interpersonal relationships when people may be feeling isolated.
Slack: The ultimate guide to remote meetings in 2020

If you’re looking for a one-stop remote meeting tutorial, this lengthy guide covers all the bases. Among the in-meeting tips we love: Give everyone a job. “Not having a clear purpose for each attendee is the quickest way to kill team engagement… for example, have one team member write down any questions that come up during a brainstorm, have another take notes on key discussion points, and have another manage the slide progression during the presentation.”

HubSpot: How to Host an Inclusive Virtual Meeting

This story details five suggestions for being inclusive online, from HubSpot’s remote work manager. Suggestion number three: Determine a structure for how you expect participants to engage during the meeting, maybe by raising a virtual hand, using the chat feature, or simply jumping in: “To keep the conversation flowing… be upfront about these expectations at the start of the meeting.”

The Aspen Institute: Tips for Creating an Inclusive Virtual Space

Along those same lines, this insightful guide suggests that you establish community agreements for each meeting: “A common set of principles that are generated ‘by the group, for the group’ help people feel ownership… permits individuals to say what they need to be successful at this moment, and creates trust. Provide space at the top of your meetings for the collective generation of agreements and confirm participants are bought in. Come back to your agreements if you notice the meeting going off task or voices are being left out.”

A common set of principles that are generated ‘by the group, for the group’ help people feel ownership… and creates trust.
Atlassian: How to counteract 3 types of bias and run inclusive meetings

This story isn’t about remote meetings specifically, but offers much to consider for an environment where it’s easier than ever to fall into counterproductive habits. Be sure to check out the section on the WWIGS method, an acronym that includes write it down: “When a big question arises, have the group take a few minutes to put their ideas on paper then go around and have everyone share. This gives less vocal participants time to gather their thoughts and ensures their voice will be heard.”

SHRM: Virtual Presentations, Meetings Require New Approaches for Success

One of the best points from this article concerns time: Time just isn’t the same in person as it is online. For that reason, you should try to pick up the pace in presentations and consider shorter meetings: “You can easily set up virtual meetings and collaboration sessions in short blocks of time as needed. There are product development teams I know who hold 15-minute videoconferences every morning. The medium can be used as flexibly as a phone call.”

Got tips to share for keeping virtual meetings productive, personable, and equitable? Let us know about your favorites!