There is a saying that every cloud has a silver lining – something positive that comes from a negative situation. One person who has found a positive after a mostly challenging, negative 2020 is Kirstin Ferguson, who authored the Forbes magazine article, “Ten Reasons Why Virtual Meetings Are the Best Thing to Happen in 2020.” She describes how the overnight move to videoconference meetings has improved the effectiveness and productivity of meetings.
The Virginia Asphalt Association has effectively used virtual meetings to conduct business, elect board members, and meet with government entities to coordinate efforts during the pandemic. The virtual May 1 Annual Meeting, which included election of new board members, had 50 attendees. This meeting was immediately followed by a virtual meeting of the new board. An article in VAA’s recent magazine points out that legal counsel and approval of the board of directors was needed to adjust by-laws to allow virtual and remote communications. The ability to attend meetings regardless of location was also discussed in an article describing the attendance at two committee meetings with the Virginia Department of Transportation – 40 attended from as far away as Kentucky for one committee meeting and 60 joined the other meeting from as far away as Florida.
So what are the 10 reasons Ferguson believes virtual meetings are a good thing?
- Less Waffle, More Decision Making – pre-circulated agenda, pre-reading of material and a chair who keeps the discussion on track leads to more decisions made and time saved
- Discussion Dominators Diminished – colleagues who might have dominated face-to-face discussions seem quieter and are less likely to take over a conversation
- Death of the Power Suit – people are encouraged and more willing to bring their authentic selves (in comfortable clothes) to the meeting rather than external symbols of success and power
- Size Really Doesn’t Matter – the power pose, overbearing handshake or habit of leaning aggressively across a conference table or desk to make a point are gone
- Everyone is Welcome – location or the need to be home with children doesn’t preclude anyone from attendance at social or networking events
- Sharing Made Simple – everyone can equally see and hear the presenter versus shuffling chairs to get a good view, slides can easily be read on screen, questions can be asked via chat rather than interrupting the flow of discussion, and you can take a bathroom break by switching off your camera
- Buying Back Time – time saved in travelling back and forth to meetings can now be spent on other things – helping everyone regain work-life balance
- Coming to You from…Anywhere – geographic freedom is a bonus for employees who choose to work remotely and to employers who now have a boundless pool of talented employees since online meetings eliminate the need for people to be physically located nearby
- Punctual is Perfect – virtual meetings tend to start and end on time since there is no need to wait for stragglers fixing a cup of coffee in the break room or colleagues saying goodbye to their client in reception
- One In, All In – there is a greater sense of equality of experience when everyone is attending virtually versus meetings where some are “in the room” and others are calling in from remote locations