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Meeting Success in the Zoom Era

By Topic: Workforce


Since the start of the pandemic, leadership teams at provider organizations across the country have had to make changes to the way they meet. Some teams have worked virtually the entire time, some have worked via a combination of in-person and virtually, while others have continued to meet in-person but with new social distancing practices in place. While the struggle is palpable (“Zoom fatigue” is real), there are ways to overcome the challenges that come with meeting in less-than-ideal scenarios.

Set some ground rules. It can be helpful for meeting attendees to know certain information in advance such as how long the meeting will last or if there will be breaks, says Carson Dye, FACHE, president/CEO, Exceptional Leadership LLC, Toledo, Ohio. Dye also recommends leaders who are spending a lot of their time in front of screens make a point to take a break. “Walk away once in a while,” he says. 

Shorten the agenda and request information ahead of time. To combat decision fatigue, Dye recommends including fewer items on agendas. Consider having attendees provide written contributions ahead of time to the meeting leader. This can help encourage quiet team members, who may be even quieter on virtual meetings, to contribute, according to Dye.

Reduce meeting lengths. David L. Callender, MD, president/CEO, Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston, and an ACHE Member, says his staff have adjusted their meetings to account for the differences in experiencing virtual versus in-person meetings. “We’ve increased the frequency of some of our meetings and are trying to reduce the duration so people don’t fatigue,” he says. “It’s a different sort of impact to sit in front of a computer screen or sit and talk on the phone.” 

Find a replacement for regular one-on-one touchpoints. The seemingly small conversations that occur before and after in-person meetings can be an important part of idea sharing and decision-making among leadership teams. One substitute for these moments could be occasionally breaking up into smaller groups during virtual meetings, Dye recommends.

Make the most of in-person time. For leadership teams that are able to meet face-to-face, many are meeting in smaller groups and less frequently. To make the most of what is now even more precious time, Paul Keckley, PhD, managing editor, The Keckley Report, recommends planning ahead as much as possible, including sharing more information pre and post meetings. “It’s a rare instance when people are going to be together, so it has to be meaningful for them,” he says. 

Jessica D. Squazzo is a Chicago-area-based writer and editor.