Episode 279: The #1 Thing That Makes Your Virtual Project Meeting a Success (Premium)
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This episode is sponsored by The PM PrepCast for The PMP Exam:
Today we have Wayne Turmel (http://www.greatwebmeetings.com/ - https://www.linkedin.com/in/wayneturmel) back on the program to take another look at his book Meet Like You Mean It: A Leader's Guide To Painless And Productive Virtual Meetings.
This time we are going to the back of the book and look at the virtual project meeting assessment templates that he includes. If that sounds boring, then don’t worry. This is Wayne Turmel we are talking about here!
Yes, we are using his template as the basis for the interview, but he manages to make our discussion not only fun and entertaining but also highly educational.
Oh yes… and of course… he is going to introduce you to the number one thing that will make all your virtual project meetings a success!
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 279. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner. Welcome back.
This is a Premium episode. It's recorded and reserved for all those great fans of our show, like yourself, who have decided to support us financially with a paid subscription. Thanks!
Today, we have Wayne Turmel back on the program to take another look at his book "Meet Like You Mean It, A Leader's Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings". This time, we are going to the back of the book and look at the assessment templates that he includes. And if that sounds boring then don’t worry, this is after all Wayne Turmel that we're talking about here. Yes, we are using his template as the basis for the interview but he manages to make our discussion not only fun and entertaining but also highly educational. Oh yes! And of course, he is going to introduce you to the number one thing that will make all your virtual project meetings a success.
Finally, don’t forget, we have 2 copies of Wayne's book to give away. Since you are a registered Premium subscriber, you can simply sit back and wait for the drawing. We'll randomly pick a winner from our subscriber list for one of the two books. If you want to double your chances of winning, of course then, please do go to www.facebook.com/pmpodcast and enter into the free drawing as well.
And now what could it be? What is the number one thing that will make your virtual project meetings a success? Well, enjoy the interview.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Wayne Turmel, President of www.GreatWebMeetings.com.
Cornelius Fichtner:Hello, Wayne! Welcome back to the Podcast!
Wayne Turmel: Hi, Cornelius. It's good to be back! Thank you for inviting me.
Cornelius Fichtner: Well I promised towards the end of our first interview, we'd have you back to talk a little bit more about your book "Meet Like You Mean It, A Leader's Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings" which you can find on Amazon by the way.
And what we're going to do is we are going towards the end of the book where you have tools and checklists and things like that. We're going to look at these. But before we start on reviewing those checklists, why did you write the book?
Wayne Turmel: Why did I write the book? You know, it's funny most of my career was spent in management training and communication skills training. So that's always been my passion but as the workplace has changed over the last few years not just project management but everybody's work, the numbers of people who are working virtually are insanely high and yet as I've mentioned before for 80 or 85% of people receive no training in the tools. These are our lifelines. We're not allowed to travel. We physically can't span the distance and so we're connected by these electronic tethers and we've just been shoved out into the world and said: 'Here, figure it out.'
The great management guru, Peter Drucker, said that the greatest management job of all time was building the pyramids and we've just been trying to live up to that success ever since, which is great except that at least the guy who built the pyramids was at the pyramids. He wasn’t trying to flood people by email.
And so, more and more I was talking to people who are just incredibly frustrated. They understand the constraints that they're working on and I wasn’t able to find a decent one-stop guide to help people develop the skills to get really good at this.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Let's turn our attention to the checklist which are as I said at the end of your book. Why do we have a separate checklist for traditional meetings and one for virtual meetings because in the first interview, we kind of learned that all the technology that virtual meetings give us, it's really here more to ensure that we can take a regular live meeting and put it into a virtual environment. So why do we have two separate checklists?
Wayne Turmel: Okay, I'm going to be really, really transparent.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay.
Wayne Turmel: There is a really good learning reason and there is a cynical reason. The really good learning reason is this: Meetings are one of those things that most of us have done for so long and we literally do not stop and think about what we do. And so it's always good policy to take a moment and at least periodically take inventory and say: "What are we doing? What works that we should continue doing? What isn’t working that perhaps we should do something about?" The fact is that whether it's online meetings or traditional meetings, I bet you it's been a long time since we actually stopped and had an inventory of what's working and what's not.
So from a purely practical reason, if you get no further than the assessments in the book and say: 'Oh you know what? We're not starting on time. We're getting off track. I need to do a better job of staying focused and making sure everybody's heard from.' That's great! Go and sin no more. So some of it is just we need to analyze and if I am having trouble with certain areas of this, how do I get better at it?
The cynical reason is this and it's exactly what you pointed out in the last interview, Cornelius, which is you know if you ask these questions about our live face-to-face meetings and then you ask me about the virtual meetings, with the exception of a couple of things, they're almost the same thing. They are the same problems. If you look at the top 5 reasons that people hate virtual meetings, number one is the technology is a hassle. We can't log on. There's firewall issues. That's number one. But once you get pass that, they're too long. They get off track. They are not engaging and you don’t hear from everybody.
Well those are 4 of the same 5 problems that you have with in-person meetings. And so a lot of these was slightly, cynical is an ugly word, but it was a really obvious way of getting people to kind of play along until they realize: 'Hey wait a minute, we've been thinking about these meetings wrong.'
Cornelius Fichtner: Right and this is maybe something that I didn’t explain clearly enough at the beginning. We're talking about assessment checklists here. These are checklists that we use after the meeting is already over. You do have some agenda templates and things you can do before you start a meeting but right now, the interview here that we're doing is focused on an assessment after we hold our meeting. So do we review these assessments after each meeting that we hold or do you have to be more selective?
Wayne Turmel: I think any time you want to change behavior, right? It depends on the culture of your team. Is your team meeting, are they really functional? Are they really productive? And there's a couple of things you could do better and you just want to see if you're doing everything as well as you can or do you have a very real problem?
If, as you're thinking about this, you know we're not hearing from people. People are not feeling like they are contributing. They feel like their time is being wasted. They are not showing up prepared, then you need to change the culture and you need to do that overtime. So I would suggest with the post-meeting assessments is your next meeting, send out a post-meeting assessment just to see how it's going. Do their perceptions match your perceptions? If there are little things you can adjust then do it.
If you really want to change the culture overtime, you need to continually assess and evaluate and it doesn’t mean the whole team has to participate, but you should at least sit down after every meeting and say: "Okay, how did that go?" right? Did we do a better job of hearing from everybody? Did we manage our time better? Are we using the tools as well as we should? It wouldn’t hurt for at least the first little bit to ask those questions on a fairly regular basis and then overtime, you can start to do spot checks. But if you want to change your behavior, you got to change what you do.
Cornelius Fichtner: This is good input, Wayne, because one thing that personally didn’t come across for me was who is supposed to be the person responsible filling in this checklist. But as you have now explained, this is not just something you as the meeting leader should do, but this is something that you should be sending out and handing to your team and say: "Okay, everyone tell me, what is your opinion of this question here, that question there?"
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.