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Edelman Connections - Virtual Leadership Meetings

Edelman Connections - Virtual Leadership Meetings

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Published by Edelman
For communicators, business travel restrictions present a significant challenge. They create a barrier to important face-to-face time with leaders and their teams, particularly when aligning and engaging leadership around strategy. In re-evaluating how we connect during these “no fly zone” times, virtual meeting tools, such as Web-based interactive video conferencing, provide a viable and cost-effective solution. But what are the best ways to leverage these resources to engage leaders around strategic discussions?
For communicators, business travel restrictions present a significant challenge. They create a barrier to important face-to-face time with leaders and their teams, particularly when aligning and engaging leadership around strategy. In re-evaluating how we connect during these “no fly zone” times, virtual meeting tools, such as Web-based interactive video conferencing, provide a viable and cost-effective solution. But what are the best ways to leverage these resources to engage leaders around strategic discussions?

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Published by: Edelman on Oct 09, 2013
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11
DECEMBER 2012
ALIGNING LEADERS AROUND STRATEGY WHEN FACE-TO-FACE
ISN’T AN OPTION
 
As companies continue to scrutinize budgets and struggle to provevalue to shareholders, restrictions on business travel are now the norm,not the exception, at many companies. In fact, the U.S. TravelAssociation found that the percentage of adults who reported traveling for business purposes plunged to 24 percent in 2011 from 41 percentin 2007
and that the downward spiral is expected to continue.For communicators, business travel restrictions present a significantchallenge. They create a barrier to important face-to-face time withleaders and their teams, particularly when aligning and engaging leadership around strategy. In re-evaluating how we connect during 
these “no fly zone”
times, virtual meeting tools, such as Web-basedinteractive video conferencing, provide a viable and cost-effectivesolution. But what are the best ways to leverage these resources to engage leaders around strategic discussions?
Step one: Set expectations
Building effective strategy discussions requires some preparation, regardless of venue, virtual or otherwise. Ratherthan dictating the tone and content of the discussions, co-creating the agenda using virtual tools can spark greaterbuy-in from attendees and help focus the discussion on real-world issues.In preparing for a
client’s
major internal strategy meeting, we helped develop and host a Yammer Jam, whereleaders across the business used the internal social networking tool to brainstorm what topics and themes theyfavored for the agenda. This proved an effective way to crowd-source relevant topic ideas, and it also helped setthe stage for making Yammer a go-to place for idea generation within the company.Here are other ways to help prepare participants for the session and add fresh ideas to the mix:
 
Set the tone:
Preface the session by posing a challenge that ties to agenda topics. Perhaps develop ateaser video where the CEO and a few subject-matter experts introduce the meeting 
’s
themes by giving attendees a handful of questions to weigh before the meeting. Then, devote a section of the agenda toopening the floor for this discussion.
 
Grease the wheels:
To help prime participants for an engaging discussion, assign some pre-meeting homework. F
or a client’s recent global virtual leadership meeting, we developed an interactive workbook
with a series of preparatory exercises, provocative prompting questions and relevant case studies toprovide context for meeting topics.
Questions such as “What are the top three concerns you know your
teams have about t
he recent operational changes?” and
 
How would you address each of these concernsif you had to today?
encouraged leaders to consider the tough, but necessary, questions. As a result,participants attended the virtual meeting armed with personal insights to discuss with the group.
CONNECTIONS
 An Edelman perspective on making meaningfulemployee connections that deepen engagement,build trust and accelerate business performance.
 
 
 
22
 
Establish ground rules: C
ommon challenges with virtual meetings concern distraction by workplacesurroundings and the temptation to multi-task. Instruct attendees to treat this virtual session as theywould a live, in-person meeting. That means turning off phones, closing all other online distractions(including email), and setting work aside.
 
Scale back for success:
To enhance participation and preserve the
meeting’s effectiveness,
limit virtualsessions to a two-hour window and cap the attendees to no more than 50 at each session. This mayrequire hosting multiple sessions by time zone or region.
Step two: Make it interactive
Just because leader
s aren’t
 
in the same room doesn’t mean
virtualstrategic discussions must sacrifice interactivity. Consider these ways topromote two-way engagement:
 
Turn the spotlight away from the CEO:
Do
n’t
limit messagedelivery to the executive team. Encourage relevant participantsfrom across the organization to take part in the meeting. Ratherthan scheduling an executive team member to talk aboutproduct strategy, arrange for the product manager and membersof the product team to talk about their experiences, challengesand successes in launching the product and what they envisionahead. Then, have a VP summarize the discussion and lead thevirtual Q&A with attendees and presenters.
 
Put a face to a voice:
Most virtual tools offer a video componentso take advantage of it. Keep in mind that many of these toolslimit the number of live video feeds. Use them strategically.Consider grouping presenters in the same room to leveragevideo feeds.
 
Break it up with working sessions:
Encourage participants ateach location to gather in a conference room to join the sessiontogether. Then use those local groups to host short breakoutworking sessions to focus discussion on an assigned topic orchallenge. Pre-assign someone to lead these discussions andreport back findings to the larger group.
 
Talk less, listen more:
Use the 70/30 rule
devote no more than70 percent of a meeting to presentation and the remaining 30percent for two-
way discussion. It’s always a good idea to break
up this discussion throughout the session.
 
Mix it up:
Give people options to engage during the meeting.Provide moments to open the lines for two-way discussion, butalso invite attendees to pose questions throughout via virtualmeeting features such as the chat function. Address chatquestions as they come in, when appropriate.
Role call: The four people everyvirtual session should have
Executing a virtual meeting shouldnever be a one-person show. Eachsession should include these fourroles:
1.Host and timekeeper:
This individualkicks off the meeting, sets theground rules and outlines what theinteractive segments willencompass. They also keep thepresentation on schedule,preserving the time allocated fortwo-way dialogue.
2.Presenter:
 
This person’s only
obligation is to deliver an engaging and informed presentation. It
doesn’t mean han
dling thetechnical aspects. The presentershould be coached to ask forquestions from participants.
3.Administrator:
This individualmanages the virtual experience byadvancing the deck, executing pollsand monitoring online chats andQ&As. The administrator works intandem with the host to ensurefeedback is addressed during themeeting.
4.On-hand technical expert:
Even withthe most thorough preparations,
something’s bound to go wrong.
Make sure a technical expert, ideallysomeone from IT, is present before,during and after the session.

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