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Tips Guides – Make it Easy to Apply Dozens of Short, Practical Ideas

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Guided Insights Quick Tips Guides – recently updated with new templates:

All three guides are available in softcopy form as a PDF file. Order now

107 Tips for Planning and Leading Exceptionally Engaging Virtual Meetings

Just revised! If you’re looking for ways to design and run more engaging virtual meetings, this tips guide is a great resource for you. Guided Insights principal Nancy Settle-Murphy created this quick reference guide to help remote meeting planners, virtual team leaders and team members find practical help where they need it most. Our 107 Tips for Planning and Leading Exceptional Virtual Meetings guide draws from years’ worth of real-world client experience, collaboration, research and discussion groups.

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Contents include:

  • ABCs of planning virtual meetings
  • Importance of prework
  • Using the right technology
  • Creating a realistic agenda
  • Engaging remote participants
  • Running “hybrid” meetings
  • Navigating cultural differences
  • Following up
  • Building on success
  • Plus checklists, templates and sample agenda

“I keep your tips booklet posted right next to me on the hutch of my desk and use it frequently when I’m planning meetings. This booklet is my most valuable meeting tool because, no matter what a meeting is about, following those tips ensures a successfully run meeting. Thanks for the great tool!”

Sample tips:

  1. Use your meeting time wisely—focus on having the right discussions, versus presenting data or content that could be read elsewhere. Save precious meeting time for conversations, not “slideware.” Try for 80% active participation vs. 20% passive participation. Too much passive participation sends people right to email.
  2. Make sure people know what pre-reading or prework they need to do at least five working days in advance. If you’re asking them to pore through a lot of reading material, specify which information, exactly, they need to review before they can fully participate in the conversation.
  3.  Everyone should have equal access to all tools. As an example, sufficient bandwidth can be an issue for some, as can company firewalls that may prohibit needed downloads. Consider, too, any security issues likely to crop up with the introduction of a new tool, and make sure to address them up front with your participants.
  4.  Make sure to allocate time for ground rules, group check-in, review of objectives and agenda, and working out any technology problems that may crop up. This piece alone may take up to 10 minutes, especially if some participants are new to the meeting or the team.

120 Essential Tips for Leading Amazingly Productive Virtual Teams

Just revised! If you’re leading a geographically-dispersed team, either as a project leader or a direct manager, this newly-revised tips guide from Guided Insights principal Nancy Settle-Murphy can be an indispensable reference guide. Synthesized from content from some of her most popular courses, combined with real-life client experiences, these practical tips can dramatically improve the effectiveness of almost any virtual team.

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In addition, to the contents below, the guide also includes a few helpful templates to help jumpstart your virtual team.

  • Assessing capabilities, aptitudes
  • On-boarding and off-ramping team members
  • Creating a level playing field
  • Cultivating trust across borders
  • Building social capital – strengthening relationships
  • Navigating cultural differences
  • Creating a “big picture” virtual team communications plan
  • Do’s and don’ts of using email for virtual teams
  • Decision-making, virtually
  • Delivering coaching feedback from afar
  • Celebrating, recognizing, rewarding great performance
  • Best-practices norms to save virtual teams time, reduce frustration and boost productivity
  • Plus checklists, templates and examples

Sample tips:

1    Assign tasks and leadership roles in ways that take full advantage of the different skills, experiences, and perspectives within your group. Look beyond the obvious people to find those who can benefit by growth opportunities, which can be rarer when working as a virtual team.

2    Assign a team “buddy” to help ramp-up each new team member. Try to rotate this responsibility, pairing people who may benefit from each other’s’ skills and experience. This should be done in person or via phone, when possible, versus relying primarily on email or IM to allow for more open, direct conversations.

3    Recognize and minimize power differentials – perceived and real. Be sensitive to the perceptions of remote workers that you may be playing favorites with those closest to you. Ask people on your team for an honest assessment about the extent to which they believe you treat all team members equitably.

4    Invite people to reveal a piece of themselves at every opportunity. Make it easy and fast for people to reveal a little bit of information about themselves. For example, you can ask people to answer a quick (non-invasive) personal question as they log in and/or dial in, such as “What is the title of the last book you’ve read? Or “Describe what you like best about the current season.”

5    Learn enough about the different cultures represented by your team so you can apply the most effective tactics for engaging all participants without fear of embarrassment or resentment.  In some cultures, for example, calling on someone by name may be awkward or humiliating.  Design your team meeting to encourage easy participation by everyone without calling anyone out. For example, you might go around the virtual table and ask each person for the one aspect of X that each likes the best and the one aspect that s/he considers most concerning.

95 Tips for Designing and Leading Virtual Learning Programs that Keep People Engaged

Brand new!  Whether you’re designing an instructor-led virtual training session from scratch or moving an onsite training session to the virtual world, this brand-new tips guide can help you plan and lead a virtual training session that keeps people alert, engaged and focused on learning. While these tips focus on real-time instructor-led virtual training sessions that, you can use many of these tips for designing any type of training session where active engagement is crucial to attaining learning goals.

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Contents include:

  • Addressing the special challenges of virtual training programs
  • Creating a virtual learning program architecture
  • Designing your detailed agenda
  • Using technology to its best advantage
  • Making prework an integral part of your virtual learning program
  • Getting off to a strong start
  • Keeping people focused and engaged
  • Designing successful “hybrid” sessions, blending onsite and virtual participation
  • Continuous improvement through feedback and revision
  • Accounting for cultural differences

Sample tips:

1    Map the content of each training program to the delivery method. For example, how much of the content will be conveyed via a reference guide, book or article that can be read in advance, or later on? What portions will be covered in the real-time instructor-led training sessions? Which content can be covered in an asynchronous (any time) conference area for sharing ideas or asking or answering questions?

2    Understand time constraints: For example, is there a sense of urgency to have everyone trained within a certain period of time? Do some people need to be scheduled earlier than others, due to their roles? How much time are people willing to spend, whether participating asynchronously on their own time or during the real-time training?

3    Factor in cultural differences: For example, if you expect that everyone in the virtual room will respond to certain questions, validate this assumption when you’re working with cultures that value hierarchy and formality. Thinking about including a role-play? Think again if you’re working with cultures where saving face is especially critical.

4    Decide how many modules you’ll need to achieve your learning goals. Be realistic about how much time each segment will take, keeping in mind the level of interaction you’re aiming for. It’s far better to have a few short modules than to attempt to fit everything into one two-hour (or longer) session.

5    Determine which prework is required and which is mandatory. Is prework a “nice to do,” but not crucial? Or is it imperative that all participants read an article or book, or complete whatever prework will jumpstart the learning process  If you fail to communicate the importance of prework, you risk spending more time in content review than you’d planned.

6    Vary activities to keep things fresh. For one topic, you might ask a question and ask for verbal responses. For another, you might invite everyone to type in responses and then make a verbal comment. Maybe polls will work best here, or a chat box will work best there. This way, people will be less likely to want to multitask, since they never know what’s coming next.

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