How to Effectively Manage Time in Virtual Meetings

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In Brief...

Time management is a challenge in any meeting, but it can be even more difficult in synchronous virtual meetings. The following information will help you plan for and execute virtual meetings so that they run smoothly.

Instructions

Technology can impact communication directly and indirectly. Direct impact includes:

  1. Technology may have momentary outages or interruptions.
  2. Interference (noise) may make it necessary to repeat things.
  3. Technology can fail.

Technology can impact communication indirectly in the following ways:

  1. Time is needed for audio and visual prechecks.
  2. Participants have to wait for transmission delays.
  3. Participants may not be adept at using the technology.

A prudent facilitator will plan extra time for these issues. Ten to fifteen minutes is normally enough to adequately compensate for this. Additionally, the facilitator should have a backup plan in case any component of the technology fails. Backups may include:

  1. Emailing the presentation document to the participants should the visual component of the presentation fail.
  2. Using a form of written communication, such as a chat, should audio fail for one or more participants.
  3. Resorting to asynchronous discussion should immediate connectivity fail.

When planning a meeting:

  1. Set an approximate time each person is expected to speak.
  2. Plan for questions and discussion.
  3. Add time for technical issues, as described above.
  4. Delegate a person in the meeting to be a timekeeper.

Delegating a person to be the timekeeper serves multiple purposes, as follows:

  1. A timekeeper helps to keep the meeting on track while the facilitator concentrates on the content.
  2. Announcing the timekeeper at the beginning of the meeting reminds all participants that there is limited time.
  3. Selecting a timekeeper creates buy-in from the participants regarding the schedule.

If you know that one of your staff members tends to use a lot of time, he or she may be a good candidate for the timekeeper role.

Author: Sheri Schmeckpeper

Sheri Schmeckpeper holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Financial Management and Computer Information Systems as well as a Master's degree in Adult Education and Distance Learning. She is a Microsoft Certified Professional and Trainer. Sheri has implemented distance learning programs at three top institutions of higher education, has been a guest speaker on radio, and has presented at local and national training workshops. Her diverse background includes technology, education, interpersonal relations, finance, and management. Sheri has developed and facilitated courses in the areas of instructional technology and online learning, faculty development, communications, finance, and professional development and achievement. She is currently co-founder of the Institute for Instructional Excellence and directs the Center for Excellent Living where she is also a life coach.

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