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5 Types Of Online Meetings

(And How To Structure Them)

NOT ALL TYPES OF ONLINE MEETINGS ARE CREATED EQUAL

A meeting is a tool that we use to achieve a specific goal. And FORBES knows that using the wrong tool can lead your team in the wrong direction. But different types of online meetings suit different types of objectives. And understanding the different types of online meetings can helps u make sure that we’re using the right tool for the job. 

No matter if you’re RUNNING YOUR MEETING ONLINE, or meeting face-to-face, it’s important that you have an understanding of how to PLAN YOUR MEETING. And the first step in planning your meeting is to know what you want to achieve, and decide which tool you need to achieve that goal.

In this post, we’ll identify the 5 types of online meetings, provide a quick guide to understanding their differences, and give you an outline for how to structure them. But first, some words of advice.

THE 5 TYPES OF ONLINE MEETINGS

In this post, we’ll go through these 5 types of online meetings, provide a quick guide to understanding their differences, and give you an outline for how to structure them. Click the links below for a more in-depth understanding of how to run each type of online meeting. 

  1. ONLINE CHECK-IN MEETING
  2. ONLINE PRESENTATION MEETING
  3. ONLINE CO-CREATION MEETING
  4. ONLINE ELABORATION MEETING
  5. ONLINE OPERATIONS MEETING

TALK TO YOUR TEAM ABOUT YOUR ONLINE MEETINGS

AND WHAT IS EXPECTED OF EVERYONE

Your entire team should have an understanding about the basic differences between the 5 types of online meetings. If everyone has an idea about what to expect, they also have an idea of what’s expected of them. When your team knows what lies ahead, they can PREPARE THEMSELVES properly for the online meeting.

Discussing Meetings With The Team

It’s worth it to organize a separate meeting with your teams where you discuss what kinds of expectations you have of your team. Establishing these expectations ahead of time allows you to jump right in at the start of the meeting, rather than spending time talking about how everyone should behave.

Here’s what your team should understand about the different types of online meetings:

OBJECTIVE

Everyone needs to understand the different objectives that each meeting has. This is the reason that you’re having the meeting, and it lets people know how to prepare, what to expect, and how to participate.

PARTICIPATION

Participation is the way that your team will behave during the meeting. Different meetings require different types of behavior from the people participating. From low-level participation (mostly listening), to high-level participation (actively sharing and taking part). When people know how they are expected to participate, they properly prepare and adjust their behavior appropriately.

DEBRIEFING

Debriefing at the end of a meeting provides an overview of what was discussed, and an action plan for moving forward. This is a crucial step that often gets overlooked. It’s important to take a moment to wrap things up with purpose. It not only acts as a great refresher, but it allows us to set up an action plan to achieve our goals and stay productive.

INTERACTION

Interaction is the way in which the Meeting Lead expects people to take part. Certain meetings require the Meeting Lead to guide interaction, moving the speaking conch from one person to the next, inviting people to share their thoughts or experiences. Other meetings make room for interaction on a voluntary or discretionary basis, with participants speaking up when they have an idea or something to say.

MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR ONLINE MEETINGS

STRUCTURE, AGENDA, & INVITATIONS

It’s important to take the time to plan your online meetings appropriately.

Both online meetings and face-to-face meetings share similar structures, but without meeting physically, we miss out on important physiological signals in our brains and our bodies that naturally help us to sync up with one another. 

Online Meeting Slack Notification

That’s why leaders need to take extra care when arranging online meetings. The right preparation gets your team ready to go from the top, brings them in on the action, and gives them a sense of accomplishment and purpose when it’s all over.

Here’s what you should understand when planning different types of online meetings:

MEETING STRUCTURE

Every meeting should have a simple structure with a beginning, a middle, and an end. This gets your team ready to go from the top, brings them in on the action, and gives them a sense of accomplishment and purpose when it’s all over.

No matter what type of meeting you’re running, it should include a welcome, the core content, a debriefing, and a closing. Depending on the type of meeting, it can also be helpful to include some icebreakers, energizers, or warm-ups to get your team in the right space to get things done.

WELCOME
The official start of the meeting. This is a chance for everyone to say “Hello” and for the Meeting Lead to introduce the objective of the meeting.

CORE CONTENT
The main material of your meeting. This varies depending on the type of meeting you are running.

DEBRIEFING
A review of things that were discussed in the meeting. This not only serves as a reminder about what you’ve discussed, but it lets the participants raise any questions, thoughts, or concerns they have before the meeting adjourns.

CLOSING
A quick “thank you” from all participants, and closing words of encouragement from the Meeting Lead. This helps to send everyone on their way with positivity and purpose.

MEETING AGENDA

Making an agenda helps the organizers of the meeting to keep things on track. An agenda doesn’t have to be particularly detailed, but it should be organized and structured. If there is more than one person leading the meeting, assign the tasks to the appropriate person with their initials in brackets (EG).

Depending on the type of meeting, it might be helpful to include a rough estimate of the amount of time that is allotted for each point on the agenda. And if there are any materials that need to be shared, include the appropriate links (with labels) in the agenda before the meeting starts.

GET OUR FREE TEMPLATES TO CREATE GREAT ONLINE MEETINGS

EVENT INVITATIONS

Making and sharing the calendar event is an important part of organizing a meeting. It’s always a good idea to let your team see the agenda before the meeting starts. Be sure that you are only inviting the people who should be in that meeting, so you don’t waste anybody’s working hours, or lose any productivity during the meeting. 

When making the event, give your team all the information needed to be ready. In the “notes” or “description” field, include the Meeting Type, Date, Time, Objective, and Meeting Lead in the agenda, even if that’s also in the calendar event. This helps people quickly get all of the information they need in one location. And don’t forget to include the link to where the virtual meeting is happening.

1 | CHECK-IN

The purpose of a Check-In is to gain an understanding about the state of things in the team / task. The Meeting Lead should guide individual participation, giving 5-10 minutes for each participant to share their update.

QUICK GUIDE 

OBJECTIVE
To gain an understanding about the state of things in the business / team / task.

CORE CONTENT
Facilitated by the Meeting Lead, each member of the team gives an update about the status of their responsibilities, and raises any issues or asks any questions they may have about the project.

PARTICIPATION
5-10 minutes update from each person per task.

INTERACTION
Designated participation facilitated by the Meeting Lead.

DEBRIEFING

Establish what kind of assistance everyone needs to meet their goals.  

MEETING OUTLINE

  • WELCOME
  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • CHECK-IN
  • DISCUSSION
  • DEBRIEFING
  • CLOSING

2 | PRESENTATION

In a presentation, the Meeting Lead presents information to the team with the help of visual aides. Expect little to no individual participation, but create opportunities for questions, either throughout the presentation, or at the end.

QUICK GUIDE 

OBJECTIVE
To present information to an audience with the help of visual aides. A set of participation guidelines should be established before the presentation begins.

CORE CONTENT
The main content is the presentation itself. If it is appropriate, there can also be a Q&A session, and/or a group discussion about how the presentation can be applied to the team / project / company.

PARTICIPATION
Little to none.

INTERACTION
Questions, Comments, and Discussion as deemed appropriate and moderated by Presenter or Meeting Lead.

DEBRIEFING

Review how the Presentation may affect the Project or Team and discuss how it can be of value moving forward.

MEETING OUTLINE

  • WELCOME
  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • GUIDELINES
  • PRESENTATION
  • Q&A
  • DISCUSSION
  • DEBRIEFING
  • CLOSING

3 | CO-CREATION / BRAINSTORMING

Co-Creation / Brainstorming meetings are an opportunity to source ideas and solutions from the team about a specific task. Allow for open interaction, and encourage participation by individually inviting individuals to share their ideas. It’s also a great idea to split into smaller teams to tackle ideas together in separate breakout rooms.

QUICK GUIDE 

OBJECTIVE
To source ideas and solutions from the team for a specified need / objective.

CORE CONTENT
Describe the objective and criteria for desired outcomes. Brainstorm as a team, before breaking into smaller groups to elaborate on the most promising ideas. Come back together to present the solutions before making a decision about which direction to pursue.

PARTICIPATION
Very High. 

INTERACTION
Voluntary feedback given openly by the participants. If needed, Meeting Lead can facilitate brainstorming exercises.

DEBRIEFING

Review and/or narrow down ideas that were developed during the meeting. Assign next steps if any. 

MEETING OUTLINE

  • WELCOME
  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • WARM-UPS
  • IDEATION
  • SELECTION
  • ELABORATION
  • PRESENTATIONS
  • DECISION
  • DEBRIEFING
  • CLOSING

4 | ELABORATION

An elaboration meeting is a chance to collect feedback from your team on a given idea. This type of meeting has a high level of interaction that can be guided by the Meeting Lead, or offered up at the discretion of the participants.

QUICK GUIDE 

OBJECTIVE
To encourage participants to give their feedback on a given idea / topic / situation.

CORE CONTENT
Give guidelines to the group about what type of feedback is the most helpful. Present the idea in its current form, and receive feedback from the team. If appropriate, set up an ideation or brainstorming session to further explore potential solutions.

PARTICIPATION
High.

INTERACTION
Feedback and elaboration at participant’s own discretion and facilitated by Meeting Lead.

DEBRIEFING

Review feedback suggestions and solicit further questions and comments from participants.

MEETING OUTLINE

  • WELCOME
  • GUIDELINES
  • WARM-UPS
  • PRESENTATION
  • FEEDBACK / IDEATION
  • DEBRIEFING
  • CLOSING

5 | OPERATIONS

An operations meeting is the right place to update the team on the current status of short-term workflow or overall business. These are often regularly scheduled or recurring meetings with a medium amount of participation and interaction. Operations meetings are a great opportunity to review team progress and assign participants new tasks.

QUICK GUIDE 

OBJECTIVE
To give the team an update on the current status of short-term workflow.

CORE CONTENT
Important updates and information from the Meeting Lead about the state of the project or company. Address any additional topics from others on the agenda as well.

PARTICIPATION
Low to Medium. 

INTERACTION
Questions and comments from the participants are moderated by the Meeting Lead. There may also be an open round of Discussion if appropriate. 

DEBRIEFING

Review the strategy and assign any next steps. 

MEETING OUTLINE

  • WELCOME
  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • MAIN BRIEFING
  • TOPICS FROM OTHERS
  • DISCUSSION
  • DEBRIEFING
  • CLOSING

Focused virtual leadership goes a long way towards keeping your team happy, healthy, and productive.

THE RIGHT MEETING DRIVES THE RIGHT RESULTS

Distance working is stressful enough. Make sure that your team understands that you value their time. Keeping your meetings short, organized, and on track helps people stay engaged, and gets them back to work quickly and efficiently. Take the time to communicate your expectations and organize your thoughts.

And happy meeting.

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