Webinar presenter Natasha Terk answered a number of your questions after her presentation, "Planning and Leading In-Person and Virtual Meetings." Here are a few of her responses.
Audience Question: How in the world do you actually get people to actually read the homework and the prework? And how do you manage people that continuously fail to do the prework?
Natasha Terk: I am always struggling with this as a trainer, because, like I said earlier, that the idea is you're shortening the training time by asking people to do the homework. Sometimes I find myself like if I have people read something, and then complete an assignment, I find myself reminding, and reminding, and reminding people to turn in the assignment. So, you might have to take on that role, whether you like it or not. And then at least, if you build backwards, you have the time you want people to read this, fill out a short survey, showing that they did it. At least you have closure, and you can remind the people that didn't come.
You could kind of be heavy-handed and say, if you don't fill it out you don't come. You could get the person's manager or supervisor involved in the whole thing. I've tried every strategy under the sun, I've even tried Starbucks gift cards for being the first one or the first ten to fill out such and such. Which is somewhat motivating. You just have to assume that there is a certain percentage of people who won't do it.
But the good news is that maybe when they see that other people have, and they are not able to participate. It's like going to a book group and not reading the book, and you feel like, "Whoa, I'm a little bit embarrassed that I didn't read the book." So hopefully, that embarrassing moment helps you make the compelling argument next time, about why that pre-work is essential. You're training people to do that work, the quid pro quo, lead without what's the benefit for them, the benefit for them is that it's a shorter meeting, or it's a more effective meeting or both. So those are all my tips, I hope some of them helped.
Audience Question: The next question, it actually starts off with a statement, there are times when beating some presentations are used to convey information such as the change in policy and procedures. Is it best to hold a face-to-face meeting or can a memo/email sometimes suffice to translate these types of changes?
Natasha Terk: It depends on your leadership style. If you want to simply send the information and ask people to follow a new process, you can do it that way. All the theories in change management show that people will be more engaged in a change process if they feel like they have contributed and engaged in it on some level. So, having a meeting and answering questions may help people buy into whatever change process you are suggesting or enforcing, whatever the reality may be. But having that meeting you got to be open to questions that come up and feeling comfortable that you can facilitate a discussion around this topic. That said, if people have resistance, and you're able to have a conversation that overcomes the resistance, you may see that you have even better buy-in to that change process.
Audience Question: Something that I know a little about, that Chris and I know a little bit about, do you suggest an introduction script for a webinar or for online training?
Natasha Terk: That's interesting. Do you want to take that on there, or you want me to jump in on that one?
Aaron: I'll share some of my thoughts and obviously jump in and add to it. We start off our webinars with the same script. We obviously modify it to add the presenter information, gives a background about the presentation. And we do it especially, first of all, to make sure people know that they're on the right webinar. But we also do it to make sure that we're able to share the same housekeeping items to help people that may be new to GoToWebinar. We always have new people on our webinars, to make sure they know how they can participate, how they can fully leverage the webinars. I think anytime we're using a script whether it's for that intro or for that online training, there's a real danger that you start sounding that like you're reading something and it's really, really clear. I can tell every single time one of our presenters starts reading a script, I can tell. We always try to make it sound like it's new information, it's the first time we're saying something that we've probably said five or six times. But I'd love your thoughts on that, Natasha.
Natasha Terk: I agree wholeheartedly. I would never script anything, but you could have bullet points, that are triggers to whatever you want to jump off of. I think you come off as a more confident, engaging presenter if you're speaking instead of reading. Best you can do if it's really, my presentation skills, of course, we say the same things, many other things, if you're reading, you sound like you're reading. So, speaking is a lot more engaging.
Audience Question: As a meeting participant, what do we do if the leader regularly goes off track from the agenda that they created?
Natasha Terk: You might have an opportunity for an offline conversation with that meeting leader. I guess that's where I would start, if that's politically acceptable, to say this is my experience of the meeting, or ask some engaging questions, can I brainstorm with you to find ways that we can accomplish the meeting objective and stick to the agenda and the allotted time because I'm sure there's a whole host of reasons why that would be important to you or to anyone. Maybe there's some resources you want to send, an article, and you can send it, across a wider distribution, so that meeting leader doesn't feel singled out. Maybe somebody local wants to a lunch and learn for your organization and that meeting leader hears the same best practices around meeting facilitation. Facilitating is difficult, and you have to have enough confidence to take on some of those strong personalities but some of it can be broken down into some fairly easy steps to replicate, like the one about asking questions and using your body to move towards somebody who is taking the conversation off track. But I always start with those two things, so taking the conversation offline, or finding a way to distribute some best practices that don't single that person out in front of his or her peers.
Audience Question: The last question that we have for today also deals with being involved in a meeting as a participant. What should we do when a meeting has been scheduled and appears on my Outlook calendar, but there's no agenda listed. Should we push back?
Natasha Terk: I don't know if I call it pushing back, but I would certainly start with the question. "Hi, I don't have an agenda, can you send me an agenda for that meeting?" I guess maybe push back means asking even more questions like, "I'm not sure I have a role in this meeting because I didn't see an agenda?", or "What is my role in this meeting?", or "What are you expecting from me during this meeting?", or "What topics are we covering?" So definitely ask some questions, protect your time. Make sure you go to meetings, set the bar high before you accept a meeting invitation, make sure it has everything that you would want to make sure that your time is going to be valued, for sure.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of "Planning and Leading In-Person and Virtual Meetings."