Building A Better Meeting in 2021

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Businesses after the pandemic will be changed forever, which can be a good thing. The important part is re-defining how we do business in a way that fosters what’s most important to us.

Whether you are fully back in an office environment, working in a remote capacity, or returning in a hybrid on-site/remote model, chances are the past 18 months have left you feeling overwhelmed by sheer volume of electronic communication.


A work trends index report published by Microsoft in March 2021 entitled “The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?” contained staggering statistics from an analysis “of the change in collaboration activity across Microsoft 365 tools” during the period between February 2020 and February 2021. These trends include:

  • 148% increase in Microsoft Teams meeting time
  • 40.6 Billion more emails were delivered in February 2021 compared to February 2020
  • 45% year over year increase in weekly Teams chats per person

Regardless of what tools you use, the increase in communication volume is not likely to abate any time soon and may increase in complexity.
As a leader, what can you do to help ensure your communications and those of your team yield results and are not lost in the sea of meetings, emails, and instant messages?


The following techniques are not new. In fact, you may already employ many of them. Employing these approaches consistently allows you to model the communication protocols you want from the rest of your team while also benefiting from the results.
This month’s focus is on meetings. Next month we will cover email and other collaboration tools.


When meeting in-person, in a hybrid capacity with some attendees in person and others remote, or entirely remote, make the most of your time by employing these practices to get the most from your event.


Before the Meeting
Think about the reason for the meeting. Is it an informational town hall, a collaborative brainstorming session to determine a creative approach to a particular challenge, or a targeted presentation of specific information to drive decisions? Understanding the purpose of the meeting you’re planning will help you craft your invitation and agenda as well as assist you in identifying the appropriate attendees.

  • Make sure that you have a purpose of your meeting within the invitation along with an agenda.
  • Limit the meeting duration to less than 45 minutes to allow attendees to shift gears after the meeting concludes before beginning their next task.
  • If the meeting will include remote attendees, consider scheduling the meeting at a time that is workable for everyone, not just those in your time zone.

During the Meeting
When we have the luxury of meeting in person, we use visual cues and body language to gauge the attention and engagement of meeting attendees. We can see if someone appears confused, if another person is fidgeting, or if the room is in desperate need of a stretch and break.
This is still possible in hybrid and remote meetings but takes effort.

  • If your meeting is hybrid or entirely remote, consider record the meeting to share with those who could not attend.
  • Ask attendees to mute their microphones unless they are presenting or asking a question.
  • Ensure the speaker has his or her own microphone.
  • Specifically engage remote attendees with questions or as speakers on the agenda.
  • During the meeting, stay on task/on time.
  • Use attendee video wisely. The more attendees, the more distracting video can become.

After the Meeting
Some meetings, like town halls, may not yield new assignments and action items. Other meetings might result in time-sensitive tasks or follow-on meetings. Consider the following best practices to ensure that the purpose of the meeting carries forward:

  • Disseminate notes from the meeting along with the recording, if applicable.
  • Include key decisions, any action items, and related due dates after the meeting. Resist the urge to rely on people’s memories to drive completion of required actions.

Ultimately remember that everyone’s time is valuable. Keeping meetings short and focused yields more results than longer meetings with little participation and information overload.

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