Staging GroupWork for Success: Running Virtual Meetings and Blended Group Events

Nutz and Boltz of Large Group Meetings ~ Bernajean Porter (Virtual and Live Meeting Coach)


Death by Meetings (Casey McDaniel) aka weak facilitation and poor processes cannot be livened up or turned dynamic by simply wrapping jazzy, novelty tech tools around what already is not working! In fact, the same things that can bring down the productivity and success of a Face-to-Face (F2F) meeting as well.

  • Planning - purpose, agendas, outcomes and deliverables not identified
  • Group Dynamics - activating positive intentions, engaging all talent, sustaining resourcefulness, engaging varied processing styles, embracing diversity, minimizing lurking, whiners, sabateurs, meeting take-overs, hidden agendas and many other influence factors of wether the work REALLY gets done
  • Processes - protocols, group roles, opening / closing rituals, operating metaphors, brainstorming processes, problem-solving steps, decision-making procedures, and building consensus
  • Group Products - pre-meeting preparation, operating / archiving group documents representing ideas, thinking, decisions and action steps occurring during meetings, and continued post-tasks
  • Building Collaborative Cultures - ownership of the situations activating ownership of solutions - continuous learning forward into quality work and results

Transitioning from F2F to Virtual Tools and Processes


Taking poor meeting management skills into virtual worlds will only exacerbate undesirable outcomes! Add to the mix that virtual meetings aren’t like face-to-face meetings, and people often forget that. Running a virtual meetings VERY well - tapping into group processes and participatory tools - requires additional processes and skills. Leading and participating in virtual environments for learning, sharing and working becomes more important all the time as more and more groups work across time and space. Preparing any adults to grow virtual leadership skills prepares them to work effectively with companies rapidly adopting distributed workforce strategies.

Virtual meetings speed up the process of communication in a lot of ways. However, there are certain points that must be considered while opting for virtual meetings. Although there are advantages, virtual meetings also have their disadvantages.


  • Face-to-face meetings and conferences can cost a great deal due to travel expenses, accommodations, venue rental, and the packing and shipping of displays. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, a virtual meeting or teleconference can save 50 to 80 percent of the costs of a face-to-face meeting.

  • The bloggers at Leading Virtually report that their face-to-face meetings strengthen the bond between team members; create a similar experience that builds comfort among virtual coworkers; and reinforce "the importance of one's work-related roles and their implications on 'real' people and other team members." At the qworky blog, Jenise Fryatt said that "shared experiences, spontaneous conversations, the experience of personality nuances are much harder to come by, virtually. There's also something about the immediacy and intimacy of the face to face moment that can't quite be recreated."

Disadvantages of Virtual Workspaces

  • Virtual meetings may lower the costs and eliminate the geographical distances between attendees, but they cannot achieve the effectiveness of face-to-face human communication. Many virtual meetings lack the cues we use in person such as tone of voice, body language, facial expression and other nonverbal cues that may indicate confusion, discomfort or disagreement which may lead to miscommunication.

Beware: Do NOT depend on virtual meetings for decision-making. unless gathering a temperature reading OR . . . in synchronous (same-time) and same space after
dialogue and group decision based on majority NOT consensus.