Designing Virtual Meetings – An Interview with Jana Piske

Virtual team meetings - The time for your team

I was interviewed by my sister Julia Piske for her thesis on virtual meetings. She kindly made the interview available as a video. You can find the most exciting points in the blog and the interview to look up right here. Have fun!

I ( Jana Piske ) have been involved with the Taste of Malawi eV association since 2014. Since it was founded, this association has offered the option of online volunteering as a central component. The volunteers do not know each other personally and all relationship work takes place via online channels. Personal meetings are also a lot of fun for our team members and we try to create offline meeting opportunities again and again.

break the ice

As a fixed meeting, we have a monthly meeting, which is strictly limited to 1 hour. The limitation helps everyone stay focused for an hour and not stray. In the first 5-10 minutes, the committed people arrive slowly. In fact, not everyone is on time in the team. Then for the official start we do a short round with an icebreaker question. On one hand, the icebreaker questions help you get to know the team better and, on the other hand, you get an immediate impression of the state of mind of the participants.

After the short check-in, the official part begins. This is divided into two parts. At the beginning, each team reports on their work – a classic reporting. And after that, open tasks are collected and divided. In this way, our volunteers can flexibly decide how much they can and want to get involved in the coming month. This leads to more joy and less frustration!

The moderation does not rotate with us. This is actually done by me and has the advantage that we can get through the content easily. The disadvantage of a fixed moderation is, however, that the structure is always very similar and it can also become monotonous.

Should a member not be able to come, there are of course minutes of the meeting. This is not only a requirement from the district court, but also helps us to recognize the development of our work.

Get active together

After the main session, there is always an optional co-working session. The committed people are allowed to stay longer and continue working on a specific topic. This has the advantage that you can get straight from planning to action and then implement things together with others. Digital volunteering can sometimes feel very lonely, but with this format you notice the strength of the team all the more.

Especially with virtual meetings, the biggest challenge is to create a team atmosphere. We work on the computer and combine sitting at the computer with efficient work. However, club work does not only live from work. It is important not only to work through to-dos efficiently in a meeting, but also to create exchanges and fun moments.

The future of online collaboration

For me, diversity and inclusion are the greatest opportunities in online collaboration. Even during the Corona pandemic, you could see that there was a lot more work in our association. We’ve accomplished more than ever before. Many other organizations still see digitization as a challenge – we see it as an opportunity!

My wish for the future is that many teams dare to take this step.

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