I’ve been writing a lot about remote meetings this week. For example, I’ve been developing a (pretty awesome) series of Remote Meetings Masterclasses with Lisette Sutherland.
We’ve been talking about the five big challenges our clients experience with remote meetings, sharing with each other how we help them to solve them, and then packing all that knowledge into a set of experiential workshops.
I’ve also been gathering the absolute best of what’s out there on the web to create The Frustrated Facilitator’s Guide To Remote Meetings for curated content portal Catcat. That experience pulled me up sharply.
A member of the Catcat team “tidied up” my introductory paragraphs just before publication. To my horror, they carefully defined a remote meeting as a webinar, in which someone would share their screen and talk over slides.
“That’s not a remote meeting!” I shouted to myself.
Yet again, I’d fallen for the Humpty Dumpty illusion. It’s all very well me deciding that words mean just what I choose them to mean. But the fact is, other people will use them for their individual, idiosyncratic meanings, too. It’s down to me to define my terms.
So how do I define remote meeting? I use the term fairly interchangeably with “virtual meeting” or “online meeting”.
As in any meeting, people get together to get something done: to make decisions, present ideas, collaborate creatively, teach or guide, meet and greet, debate, argue, celebrate, plan…
What’s different with a remote meeting is that you’re just not all in the same physical space. Instead, you’re linked live via technology – phone or the internet. Ideally using video in a way that everyone can see everyone else, but “virtual reality” and even text chat can work.
A remote meeting is still “a meeting”, in which you need to connect, human to human. You get to respond to each other, in real time. (Yes, I know that “real time” is a term of art. But for me, an “asynchronous meeting” isn’t really a meeting.)
And a good remote meeting starts with a good meeting. It needs to have a clear purpose; invite the right people; plan for everyone to participate throughout; start and finish on time.
There’s no law that says remote meetings need to be boring. They don’t have to be “webinar format” with people talking over slides – and in my book, there aren’t many situations where that works well.
I think it’s time to change the way we think about remote meetings, to change the paradigm, and unleash the creative collaborative potential of working together over distance. Are you with me?