Time after time, this question has arisen in client and colleague conversations where it has taken on added resonance in the context of Covid-driven online meetings, remote team discussions and mobile chat vs email client briefings.
I recall my lecturers hammering home the idea of 3-5 points maximum with a strong opening statement or compelling question and a rousing, rallying-to-action close. Staying on point was vital to generate spoken word outcomes.
This strategy continues to serve speakers, leaders and influencers who must get their messages across in meetings and via presentations that occur in online contexts..
A clear and purposeful content structure proves itself time and again in online audio- and video-based meetings. Without structure, the content rambles, takes attendees off-topic and confuses key messages. Attention wavers, engagement drops and the meeting purpose is lost.
In addition, case studies and anecdotes can bring processes and methodology to life. Be prepared to add short, to-the-point examples that illustrate outcomes, achievements and changes in direction.
Be aware that context influences outcomes. Back-to-back online meetings are far more exhausting than back-to-back on-site meetings where at least, by walking from one meeting room to another, attendees create physical transitions. Consider how you can create a mind-space as you ‘move your thoughts’ from one meeting to another, and another, across your day.
Set expectations of how meeting attendees can prepare for and contribute to the meeting when it it is underway. Yes, it means that a meeting purpose and agenda need to be circulated before the event. This will help with on-the-spot meeting management and reduce rambling and time-wasting contributions.
Invite comments and contributions so that the content and details being discussed can be developed and enriched across the department or teams.
Finally, be willing to revisit, review and re-vamp your meeting format, so that attendees stay alert, engaged and interested in the content being developed, explored and consolidated.