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Chapter 7: How to Run a Remote Team Meeting 75
Information sharing happens more efficiently via written word. Another benefit is that it’s documented if it’s needed later.
Once everyone has had the chance to read through all the updates we then turn to the discussion.
Discussion in meetings is also a hard aspect to get right. In the past, we conducted a free-for-all for questions. This led to some people and projects naturally dominating the discussion. In the end, important questions weren’t getting answered.
So we flipped the discussion aspect of the meeting on its head. Instead of allotting time for each person to answer questions about their weekly update, we give each person time to ask questions of their teammates that they formulated when reading the update posts.
Each person gets 5 minutes to ask questions, but they aren’t required to use all 5 minutes if they don’t need it. Since it’s time-constrained, team members make sure to only ask pertinent questions and ask their questions in order of importance.
If discussions last longer than 5 minutes, it’s a sign you either need to chat with the relevant parties later or your updates post didn’t go into enough detail on that topic.
We also designate one person be the designated timekeeper. This way we don’t waste time figuring out who is going to keep track of how long each person takes.
We also keep the order of team members consistent, though it does rotate. The question-asking order goes from nearest birthday to furthest birthday (at time of writing that means February birthdays go first, and January birthdays go last). This means you always know where in the rotation you come. (Bonus: You also always know when your teammate’s birthday is right around the corner).
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