Running inclusive and effective meetings using Microsoft Teams and research-based practices

>> We have become more human because of the wild, crazy time we had and all that it has been. We have seen each other’s dogs, homes, and it has made us more human than ever before. We are able to connect with each other more deeply than ever before. >> Welcome to “Inside Track.” Aleena Ansari is my name and I work for Microsoft Digital. This organization’s power protects and transforms the company.

Sara Bush is a senior program manager for the Seamless Teamwork group. Today we will be discussing how industry research has led to best practices for making meetings more inclusive and productive. These practices can be used by your team right away. Sara, I understand that everyone is different in how they share ideas in meetings. What makes them feel included?

Some people enjoy contributing their ideas by being mute and weighing in. Others might prefer to write, add their thoughts, or use the Raise Hand feature to communicate their opinions to others. It’s just right.

In fact, many of our team meetings use GIPHYs and [Speaks clearly] to communicate. There are many ways you can show up. It’s true. What are some steps people can take to make sure everyone feels at ease when running a meeting? Engaged is a great way to get a meeting started.

Is it possible to simply mute the chat and then jump in when we feel like it? Are there any people going to monitor the chat and help people understand the expectations? We want all meetings to be inclusive. They’re twice as likely to succeed if they are inclusive.

>> I know, I love these odds. Microsoft did research on improving meeting experiences long before the era of remote work.

What was the catalyst for this meeting guide being created? Many of us didn’t know the importance of nonverbal cues, even if we had done a lot of remote meetings. Many things were happening that didn’t bring online attendees into the same experience or give them the same level of visibility.

This is a great point. We must be aware that remote workers may be joining the team because it is distributed globally.

Maybe they work from home. What can they expect to find in the guide? Are there any best practices they can implement immediately? These are small, thoughtful steps that can make a huge difference in how people feel in meetings. This allows for inclusion and participation. The first is to consider who’s being invited.

I want to understand why I’m at the meeting and who is there. It allows you to do the next step: keep meetings short.

An agenda is a must. It’s funny because I love it. An agenda is a must-have for me because it helps me plan my time and ensures that I am aware of what I am doing. Video is super important when you have remote meetings or hybrids.

Let’s not use the camera if you are in fatigue mode or have other concerns. Instead of leaving your initials as is, add something to that avatar. This is a small indicator of your personality. Then, you can send follow-ups and pre-reads. Meetings can be inclusive and productive if there is synchronous access.

These tips are simple but so effective. Moving forward, I will make sure to include an agenda in all my interview invitations.

It helps that these findings are supported by industry research as well as findings from Microsoft employees. >> Yes, that’s right. We’re all making the transition to whatever new normal will be for us, so as we return back to work, we will make adjustments and update as we learn. Is there any advice you can give employees to get onboard for companies and teams that are following this guidance?

Listening to employees is key. Communicate, communicate, and communicate with them in change management. Continue to point out the problem.

Continue to show them the benefits of it and how they can benefit from it. People start to see the benefits when you get their leadership support. They can establish some norms and can model some of them. It’s true.

Leaders are often those who set the standard and model behavior. What are your proudest moments from the guide’s creation? >> Our team spends a lot of time together at the office. It is crucial to ensure that everyone feels heard, that everyone feels valued, that everyone has a place and that everyone’s great ideas and contributions are recognized.

>> I agree. This guide was created by listening to end-users and researching their needs to create recommendations.

This is digital transformation at its best, especially in this transitional era of hybrid work. Thank you Sara for your time. For those who are interested in learning more about how to run inclusive and productive meetings, visit aka. ms/InsideTrack.

To keep up-to-date on the progress of Microsoft Digital, subscribe to your YouTube channel.