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Communication strategies for remote teams: Attendee advocates for healthy environments

The workshop:

Remote leaders often fall into the trap of allowing team meetings to devolve into mere status updates, missing chances to deepen team connection. This can result in employees feeling isolated, unengaged, or misaligned with the overall goals.

What are you doing to address this? Since TXI went fully remote in 2020, we have successfully built an inclusive remote culture and are now training others to do the same.

Watch this workshop to learn how to:

  • Encourage different perspectives with Attendee Advocates

  • Stop the interruptions, silence steamrollers, and encourage everyone to have a voice

  • Get buy-in from stakeholders, even when you can't meet them in person

  • Create opportunities for people to give and receive information in the ways that work best

Workshop Host: Gayle Silverman, Principal, Product Delivery Lead at TXI

View the full workshop

The expert:

If you want to build healthier and more inclusive teams, Gayle Silverman will teach you to reimagine adapting to today’s varied work environments. Gayle is a product advocate, delivery leader and meeting coach with over 15+ years of experience in software development, and she is renowned for aligning product teams with TXI's inclusion cards. Gayle collaborates with teams to uncover where opportunity and value intersect and keeps people growing to create something amazing.

Interested in connecting with Gayle? Reach out on LinkedIn

Summary and themes explored in this webinar:

  • Introduction
    • The webinar series focuses on communication strategies, with a special emphasis on remote teams and their communication needs.

    • It was inspired by "Inclusion Meeting Cards" designed to facilitate inclusive conversations.

    • This session is the fourth of six in the series and discusses the crucial role of an attendee advocate.

  • What Is an Attendee Advocate?
    • An attendee advocate is akin to a concierge for meeting participants.

    • They ensure a warm and inclusive environment, starting from the invitation phase to post-meeting follow-up.

    • The role of an attendee advocate contributes to more effective, engaging, and stress-free meetings.

    • This approach improves team innovation, reduces risk, and positively impacts the company's financial health.

  • Attendee Roles and Responsibilities
    • These roles serve as guideposts for creating productive conversations.

    • Responsibilities include addressing accessibility needs, providing ample context, and sharing materials well in advance of meetings.

  • The Importance of Preparation
    • Preparing participants for meetings is essential to ensure they can contribute effectively.

    • Allowing participants time to digest materials in advance enhances meeting quality.

  • Meeting Challenges
    • Attendee advocates help mitigate common meeting challenges, such as off-topic discussions, one person dominating, and a lack of follow-up.

    • They also ensure meetings start on time and assist with technical issues.

  • Addressing Lack of Preparation
    • A study by Cielos revealed that 45% of participants consider the lack of attendee preparation as a significant meeting challenge.

    • Attendee advocates play a crucial role in minimizing barriers and ensuring that participants are prepared to engage meaningfully in meetings.

    • Encouraging common-sense approaches and attendee advocate behaviors can significantly improve meeting dynamics and productivity.

    • The responsibility for creating inclusive meetings extends to individuals, facilitators, and teams.

  • Individual Responsibilities
    • Individuals can support the attendee advocate role by committing to preparation and punctuality.

    • Encouraging respectful silence, where individuals who choose not to speak during meetings are respected.

    • Collaborative note-taking can improve meeting inclusivity and provide a single source of truth for discussions.

    • Emphasizing that group silence doesn't necessarily indicate agreement.

  • Facilitator Support
    • Facilitators should aid attendee advocates in creating inclusive meeting environments.

    • They can start meetings on time, monitor the chat, and conduct introductions.

    • Facilitators can ask for feedback on the meeting experience to continuously improve.

  • Handling Large Meetings
    • In scenarios with a high number of participants, consider spreading out responsibilities rather than relying solely on the meeting facilitator.

    • Tools like Google Surveys and team leads can help capture attendee advocate behavior more efficiently.

Recapping Conversations in the Chat:

  • Encourage summarizing conversations in the chat after discussions have taken place.

  • Helps consolidate ideas and ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Particularly useful after complex or lengthy discussions.

Representation vs. Participation:

  • Emphasize that merely having individuals in a meeting doesn't guarantee active participation.

  • Smaller meetings can be more productive but rely on contributions happening outside the meeting.

  • Encourage funneling input from various sources to ensure true participation.

Practical Tips for Advocacy Behaviors:

  • Attendee advocates should be skilled at multitasking, speaking frankly, and catching up on content later.

  • They can act as concierges to assist visual participants.

  • Advocates should understand participants' preferences for being addressed and responding.

  • Provide invitations well in advance to accommodate various schedules and time zones.

Calendar Considerations:

  • Recognize the challenges of scheduling meetings across multiple time zones.

  • Consider rotating optimal schedules to accommodate different time zones.

  • Research suggests that Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days for meetings.

Determining Success for Participants:

  • Experiment with asking participants what success looks like to them for a meeting.

  • Helps align goals and understand participants' expectations.

  • Encourages shared understanding and improved meeting outcomes.

Advocating Against Misunderstanding:

  • Proactively seek clarification when terminology or concepts are unclear.

  • Listen for jargon and ask for explanations to ensure everyone understands.

  • Create an inclusive environment where questions are encouraged.

Camera Etiquette:

  • Acknowledge that camera use can be exhausting for some participants.

  • Promote a healthy camera-off culture while considering accessibility needs.

  • Discuss and set norms for when cameras should be on or off during meetings.

Addressing In-Person Behavior:

  • Promote a culture where attendees feel comfortable addressing problematic behaviors.

  • Encourage bystanders to gently intervene if they witness behavior that may hinder others' participation.

  • Use group communication channels to reinforce positive meeting behaviors.

Levels of Care:

  • Check in with participants about their level of engagement and willingness to continue discussing topics.

  • Use a scale to gauge interest and prioritize discussions accordingly.

Communicating Outcomes:

  • Ensure that meeting outcomes are communicated to individuals who were not in attendance.

  • Helps maintain transparency and allows team members to stay informed.

Managing Digital Distractions:

  • Recognize that digital distractions from social media and messaging can affect productivity.

  • Encourage setting boundaries and adopting practices to protect focus time.

  • Discuss ways to consolidate communication and minimize interruptions.

Published by Gayle Silverman in Workshop

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