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16 Mar 2015

Remote Participation Tips and Tricks - Lesson 1

With the close of the 5th RDA Plenary, the topic of remote participation has come to the fore.  Having the dubious benefit of both conducting remote meetings and teaching others how to do it, I thought this might be a good time to share.

Remote participation is both a blessing and a curse for RDA.  Everyone's input is critical to the success of RDA, but given the truly global distribution of participants, face-to-face discussions are a luxury.  On the one hand, being able to contribute to a meeting, conference, or conversation from the relative comfort of your home location saves on personal wear and tear.  On the other hand, with the vagaries of existing technology, it can be difficult to contribute meaningfully to anything!  

To begin, any effective meeting, whether in-person or remote, needs the following:

1 - An agenda, prepared ahead of time.  Agendas focus the discussion, and let everyone know what is expected of them.  If possible, designate a lead for each agenda item.  

2 - All meeting materials, delivered at least 24 hours before the meeting.  If there is discussion time included in the meeting, the extra 24 hours gives a greater probability of a good exchange.

3 - A meeting lead, note taker, and facilitator.  The meeting lead makes sure the topics are covered in appropriate depth, and conclusions are reached.  The note taker captures the gist of the discussions as well as actions and other important points.  The facilitator watches the people in the room and/or the remote participation technology - monitoring the body language, chat room, audio and video connections, or anything else that might be needed to move the meeting forward.


No fuzz on this – it takes WORK and PREPARATION, but if you do only these three things, your meetings will run more smoothly and be more effective.  Plus - and here's the good part - you don't need to be the meeting leader in order to make these three things happen!  You, as a participant, can help ensure all of these tips happen - don't leave it all to the meeting leads.  They always appreciate the help!!


Next up over the coming weeks –

  • How to decide whether to have a telecon or a face-to-face meeting;
  • How to have more effective telecons;
  • How to have more effective remote participation at conferences;
  • How to have more effective in-person meetings;
  • How to write effective agendas; 
  • and anything else I find in my notes and files that might be useful


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