We have found with our clients, that video meetings with leadership, the board of directors, donors, and even full strategy meetings have been more efficient, more productive, and resulted in more energized effectiveness, with clear and measurable follow-through and spirited leadership than in-person meetings ever had produced!
Forbes magazine did a piece on the value of video meetings in the spring of 2020. We withheld judgment until we tried it ourselves. We spent a year practicing and studying virtual gatherings, and now we have to agree- continuing to meet virtually may be the best thing for your meetings.
What we learned about video meetings during the last 18 months, is that you all don’t want us in your office! Lol! Maybe you feel the same way about others you have previously met in person with – partners, board members, even donors.
As we all move back into our office space and prospective in-person meetings, reflecting on the value of being in person should be our primary focus. Continuing to meet virtually may be best for a variety of reasons, some of which I share here:
- Green. Not driving as a single person in my vehicle 50 miles to meet in person is reducing my carbon footprint. Not flying 1243 miles every month reduces it even more.
- Efficiency. Preparing to meet with me in your office requires you to reserve space, clear off your work, block off time a few minutes before we meet. And for me, preparing to arrive in your office requires at least a half-hour of preparation, if not more. Printing off materials and getting them assembled and packed up, the travel time it entails, the time for navigating parking, and location access. Virtual eliminate 99% of all of that.
- Immediacy. Our virtual meetings are more functional. You have me as a captive audience in a virtual meeting, to listen to and respond to your concerns and you can pull up illustrations or examples at the click of a button. Distractions are fewer. The meeting length is shorter.
- Fewer meetings. Because our time together in a virtual meeting is so intensive and functional, we can meet less regularly. What once took two or three meetings, can now be accomplished in one. That leaves more time for you and your team to focus on operations or strategy implementation.
- Documentation and Reach. Recording our meetings allows us to refer back to our video notes, so to speak, and make sure we have the same perception and understanding of the discussion as to when it was first created. We can also share the meeting with those who could not be present or those who didn’t have a functional role in the first meeting.
- Intimacy and Belonging. Never before have we had the opportunity to bring donors and our constituents together in such a meaningful relationship as we did while using virtual gatherings. Donors can more easily have personalized interactions and build relationships with the very mission they support.
When to Video Meet?
So before you jump back into scheduling in-person meetings, booking travel, filling up your car with gas, you should measure whether this should be an in-person meeting or a virtual one by answering these questions:
- Is the outcome of this meeting dependent on being in person? Some meetings require in-person engagement: Touring a facility, meeting a dignitary, etc.
- Will the next steps from this meeting be enhanced by meeting virtually? Sharing slide decks, video, illustrations, graphs, and data can be much more effective in a virtual setting, seamlessly presenting, versus trying to hook up and coordinate the presentation in a big conference room in person.
- Will a recording of this meeting be valuable to the project or decision-making? WHo might not be present in this meeting that would need to see the recording?
- Is the meeting a brief touchstone in a bigger project? Don’t waste travel and office time on a fifteen-minute project update.
- Will the expense of bringing everyone together in person outweigh the outcomes of the meeting? Flying people in for a board meeting can be disruptive and costly, not to mention ecologically wasteful. Board engagement is heightened in a virtual setting because of fewer distractions, easier attendance, and the ability to share more effectively which may change the way you see your quarterly meetings.
- Is it a meeting prone to conflict? Heavy news and difficult feedback should always be done in person.
I look forward to more virtual meetings- formal, scheduled, or even impromptu. Staying connected with you is the very thing that we find so valuable to your success and our mission of helping you Do Good, Better.