Top Tips for Effective Multi-Cultural Virtual Team Meetings

In the globalised business environment, virtual teams are a common organisational structure. This is even more so in today’s crisis-led world.

Virtual team meetings are becoming more commonplace than ever.

As long as you choose a capable set of underpinning technology, provide your employees with appropriate equipment and access, as well as apply more rigid disciplines than you expect in face-to-face gatherings, virtual meetings can be just as effective as the real thing.

Read on for our top tips on running effective virtual team meetings.

 

Tip 1. Pre-meeting

  • Ask for input for the agenda by sending out a group email. Call those who are less likely to respond on group emails.
  • Send out the agenda at least 48 hours in advance (when you have participants from different time zones).
  • Agree on the role of facilitator with responsibility for time keeping, agenda and ensuring everyone participates. Make sure the role is rotated among different team members.

 

Tip 2. During the meeting: Cultural Awareness

Every participant needs an understanding of the different cultures present; their cultural norms, their communication style, their behaviours and values. Basic cultural intelligence is essential to determine what aspects of an interaction are simply a result of personality and which are a result of differences in cultural perspective.

  • Learn about each other’s cultures by sharing tips on business behaviour expectations of your culture. Make this a recurring meeting agenda topic.

 

Tip 3. During the meeting: Understanding & Participation

  • Check for understanding by repeating, summarising and paraphrasing.
  • Unless the number of participants exceeds 7, ask each person for comments to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate.
  • At the end, summarise and confirm next steps, including tasks, deadlines and ownership.

 

Tip 4. During the meeting: Your Behaviour

  • Be courteous & polite.
  • Speak clearly & potentially a little slower than usual, especially for international teams. Don’t be loud and/ or patronising though.
  • Maintain eye contact by looking straight into the camera – don’t be vain & watch yourself.
  • Share the mic. Let others talk without interruption.
  • Limit side conversations at your location. Others will see your lips moving even if you have muted your mic.
  • Avoid the urge to multi-task. Don’t read emails, text, eat lunch.
  • Avoid pushing too hard if someone doesn’t want to share. Follow up individually afterwards.

 

Tip 5. Post meeting

  • Send a written summary of the meeting including: decisions made, follow-up actions, people responsible for these actions, agreed deadlines.
  • Ask for feedback on the meeting and the summary. This gives another chance for people to contribute if they didn’t feel comfortable doing so during the meeting.
  • Follow-up informally to check understanding and agreement by individual email/phone.

 

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