If you’re a virtual team it can be worse – as you are trying to reach a consensus while contending with a myriad of competing attention getters (multi-tasking might only be one).
One way to combat some of the noise is to present a model or an image to get everyone’s attention in your web ex meeting – if only for a moment. The project artifact can also serve as a rallying point to pull people back to the conversation and the issue at hand.
Displaying a model or visual of some kind during your discussions (whether a schedule, gantt or milestone chart, a timeline, a WBS, or just a plain excel spreadsheet) can help you have a more effective meeting in several ways:
1. By Pushing Attention to one Reference Point
Multi-tasking can be insidious. Everyone thinks they’re paying attention, but the one second they are attending to the other task, the team moved on to another point. Having a model can counter some of that distraction or absent thinking. If you catch someone multi-tasking, it can allow them to get back on point without losing the train of thought altogether.
2. By Summarizing the discussion or the plan
After having a discussion about the scope of a project, a timeline or milestone chart can provide a summary view of the plan the team has committed to. In a team review of the plan, you might find that there are other activities/ milestones that need to be added so that the team is aware of them during their planning.
3. By providing a Big Picture View of the project
Providing a timeline or a model of the project can take the project out of the abstract realm and give it a ‘reality’ that will help you manage the project and keep the team focused on the next milestone. With a big picture view the team can identify dependencies, risks and concerns with external events that may impact the project.
So are you on the same page? Linking your discussion to an image or project artifact can help you drive to reach that common understanding. What have you done to keep your virtual team engaged during a a call? Leave a comment or send me a tweet. My id is jgodfrey.