June 14

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Create the Perfect Time-Length for Your Team Meeting

There is an art to finding the perfect time length for any given meeting, but it takes practice to master it. Use these guidelines to figure out your own best approach as you learn the habits and discussion styles of your team members. Then apply that technique going forward to maintain control when dealing with meetings that include people outside the team so you can maintain consistency from one meeting style to the next.

Find the Sweet Spot

Each meeting needs to have its own end-time dictated by the combination of the attendees’ attention spans, the topics that need to be covered, and the practicalities of getting everyone on the same page. If your team can only manage to stay together and on track for about a half-hour, then topics need to be able to be tackled in that time, and you might have to hold separate meetings for individual issues instead of trying to tackle multiple major agenda items in one attempt.

Maintain Attention

Holding everyone’s attention in onsite meetings can be challenging even when you control the location and the presence of distractions. Use Zoom office backgrounds to get the same kind of control in virtual meetings by sidestepping issues like distracting movement or pets in the background view of participants’ cameras. That will help you hold everyone’s attention to the topic.

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Make sure you include behavioral follow-through alongside these tech solutions, though. The meeting will only be as focused and effective as its facilitator, so you might need to take active steps to hold the attention of members who struggle with lengthy discussions. Call on them for contributions to keep them focused.

Keep the Agenda Moving

Write out your agenda beforehand so you know what has to be covered in the meeting. Next, set target times for each area, and once you get close to those times, start moving the conversation to the next topic. There is a delicate balance between fostering openness in your problem-solving and getting stuck on a topic when the day has more that needs to be addressed. Consider using a Zoom background template that changes with each major topic to transition to the next item with a visual cue if you need a little extra help grabbing the attention of all your participants.

Know When To Stop Questions and End Discussions

It takes a little time to learn when your team has finished the productive part of a discussion, but there is always a moment. That is when you need to seize control and move forward even if there is still time budgeted for that agenda item. It is better to wind up under your allotted time than to wind up mired in an unproductive discussion that is hard to pull back out of.

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Pay attention to your team’s habits and learn when things are progressing past brainstorming and into active rumination. Then set up your Zoom virtual office to help you move things forward with visual cues that attune the group’s attention to the new item. If you wind up with a later agenda item that needs more time for a productive discussion, you will be positioned to take that time more easily now.


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