April 9, 2020 | By Alumni Relations | Back to news

Susan Finerty, Adjunct Faculty Center for Professional & Executive Development at the Wisconsin School of Business, knows how to run a productive meeting. During the COVID-19 pandemic with many teams switching to working remotely, knowing how to get work done virtually is critical. Susan suggests five different practices that lead to a productive virtual meeting:

  1. Talk yourself out of it
    Susan’s first rule of meetings is to talk yourself out of it if you can. If the information isn’t urgent, the participants don’t need to hear the information from you, and there is no mass coordination then that meeting can be an email. Press pause and think about if a meeting should really take place.
  2. Get clear on outcome
    Make sure you know what you physically want to have after your virtual meeting has ended. The more you think of an outcome as something physical, like a timeline or decision, the more likely you are to craft the right agenda and invite the right people. Write down the outcome you want before the meeting and share it with your team.
  3. Craft the agenda
    Think about your agenda as a thought process. It is your job to get the meeting from a lot of ideas, to a decision. Susan recommends using a three-point agenda that includes the following steps:
    • Get grounded—Use this time to understand why you’re meeting and make sure everyone is aware of the objective.
    • Discuss—Use this time to discuss options and different scenarios.
    • Land—This is where you will land on your final decision from the discussion.
  4. Invite the right people and get them prepared
    There is no need to invite more people to your meeting than needed. Their input might not be pertinent to the conversation if they don’t truly need to be involved. Ask these questions to determine who should be invited:
    • Do they have the decision making rights?
    • Do they need to be there? Why?
    • What do you expect them to do?
    Make sure to give all meeting attendees pre-work with a purpose and a consequence. This helps ensure that the participants come to the meeting prepared and are ready to discuss.
  5. Facilitate the heck out of your meeting
    A virtual meeting will not go as planned without a good facilitator. The perfect facilitator uses engaging slides to keep the team visually focused, asks direct questions often, and keeps a very structured outline so that decisions don’t get lost in the virtual space.

Susan Finerty delivered these insights as part of the WSB Alumni Webinar Series. Susan has experience in organizational development working with large multinational companies. She is the author of Master the Matrix: 7 Essentials for Getting Things Done in Complex Organizations and The Cross-Functional Influence Playbook.