VIRTUAL LEADERSHIP : The Four ‘P’s of Online Meetings

In the last week, leaders around the globe have been tasked with quickly finding solutions to protect their workforce and ensure continuity. This means most of the teams are now working from home and many leaders are brave out of physical meeting rooms and into cyberspace for the first time.

Now the primary connective element for many organizations is a virtual meeting. But, as I have said in countless leadership workshops over the years,effective meetings do not happen by chance. As a leader, you must take responsibility for the outcome of these meetings, so it is crucial that you learn to properly prepare for and conduct them.

The Master of the virtual meeting is ‘Wade Shows, of Crucible Coaching and Consulting’. In his Alchemy of Meetings, he speaks to exactly this topic and pointing out that while they represent a significant investment in both time and money, those investments are often wasted.

To make the best possible use of virtual meeting time, Shows suggests that leaders focus on the 4 Ps….

  • People ——Often, as leaders, we become sofocused on meeting content or the desired outcome that we fail to think first of our people. Who will be involved&why is this a good use of their time? What is their contribution? It is crucial to think of attendees as engaged participants, rather than a compliant audience. If you are planning to talk at them, it is probably a classic case of ‘this could have been an email’.Keep away from those at all costs if you want to keep morale high!
  • Preparation —— In order to make the good use of everyone’s time, effectively facilitate, and ensure a positive outcome, Shows recommends that you perform at least one minute of preparation time per one minute of meeting time or ideally two. If this sounds excessive, there is a good chance for your meetings to date have not been nearly as meaningful or productive as they could have been. Most of us can recall a meeting in which something was discussed at length, still, no action was taken. How many meetings have you been forced to repeat as a result? Preparation is your best protection against ineffective meetings. It is far better for you to utilize that hour now, rather than revise the hour later, multiplied by the No. of attendees.
  • Practice—— These real tools, and procedures should be performed, that keep people engaged, present, and accountable. For example; The degree of engagement increases exponentially when team members are face-to-face, webcams are virtually non-negotiable, according to Shows. One more technique is to address every attendee, by name, ask them specific questions, and give them dedicated time to comment. Because real, meaningful conversations are hard to maintain in larger groups, consider the use of breakout sessions for meetings with more than 7-10 attendees.
  • Pursuance —– How will you keep up team commitment to action items between meetings? How will you make sure everyone not only understands their action items but agrees to their viability and timeline? Keep in mind, someone’s “yes” means nothing if they are not given the chance to say “no”. Make sure to factor in enough meeting time to allow for questions, comments, and clarification.

Imagine of your virtual meetings as a concert and you are the conductor. You would not just uncritically gather musicians in a room and tell them to start playing. You would carefully arrange the process. In advance,you would let everyone know, what piece of music you hope to create and what part you’d like them to play. You’d certain everyone had the instruments they required, and carefully organize the process to ensure a good harmonious result.

Teams flourish when everyone feels they are important contributors to a meaningful outcome. It is not virtually the hard cost of participants’ paid time, Shows points out, “It is also about the soft costs— which include team trust, engagement, and commitment. It all depends on how well you plan for and lead your virtual meetings.”

And the good aspect is, the muscles you build by designing and conducting online meetings will significantly boost your in-person meetings as well. So, you have got, which is nice…….


Peter Montoya is the author of “The Brand Called You” and he is also a highly motivational keynote speaker and leadership development strategist. To find Peter, visit or call (949) 334-7070. 

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