7 ways to get more connection and satisfaction from online collaboration

By and large, we human beings prefer face-to-face meetings to online collaboration. That is one conclusion I’ve drawn from combining virtual and in-person workshops as a leadership coach, and helping clients strengthen virtual leadership skills over the las decade.

The second conclusion is that online meetings don’t need to be the stiff and semi-focused 2nd class alternative many people see them as: there’s an often untapped potential to turn online meetings into highly productive and connecting encounters.

More effectiveness, connection and satisfaction

Given that online meetings will continue being the go-to-choice of meetings in the near future, we at Miltton Helsinki wanted to share some of the ways we have developed to increase the quality and satisfaction with virtual collaboration.

  1. Prepare: The biggest energy drain in online meetings is a lack of clarity on the purpose of the meeting and one’s role. So put extra care into a clear invitation: What is the meeting objective? What outcome are you aiming for? Who contributes how? What preparations are needed from whom?
  2. Use cameras: Yes, they tend to initially make us self-conscious. Yet seeing each other’s faces does wonders for the level of connection and clarity of communication. We all become more relaxed speakers when we get non-verbal facial cue feedback from others. It helps us pick up if something requires clarification, and it radically increases meeting focus since it becomes quite obvious when someone starts multitasking.
  3. Start with a check-in round: In a physical meeting, informal catch-ups happen naturally while we get settled with coffee etc. Create the online equivalent that fits your meeting purpose: Maybe a quick round of hearing what’s top of mind for everyone, or a round to hear everyone’s main expectation for the meeting.
  4. Facilitate to engage: People tend to hold back their contributions more in online settings, increasing the risk that the meeting will be dominated by the facilitator and 1-2 outspoken individuals. Counter this by addressing people by name, to ensure you hear from all.
  5. Pre-involve: Are there people you want to speak to before the meeting, to invite them to co-facilitate, or prepare input? Support psychological safety by helping people feel prepared.
  6. Think flexible, smaller, shorter: 90 min tends to be the maximum time span for focused online meetings. If you are moving a longer f2f meeting online, think of how the content might be chunked up, and how to combine rounds of real-time online meeting time in a large group with offline rounds to read and comment on materials, or task-force meetings with fewer individuals.
  7. Be creative: If the energy in your online meeting starts fading, there is probably a better way to structure it. Invite ideas from all on what would help. Aim to only meet online for as long as interest and concentration can be sustained!

Helen Blässar, Miltton Sparks in Helsinki

For more information, please contact:

Helen Blässar
Senior Coach, Miltton Sparks
+358 40 507 7116