Leading Through Virtual Meetings

Jedida Ravindran
Jun 9 · 3 min read

Asif Hossain, a Senior Backend Engineer in our Payment Tribe shares his perspective on leadership and what it is like to lead virtual meetings at FREE NOW.

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What has been most important for you these weeks as a leader?

I am the epic owner of several payment projects — the scooter payment integration, automatic debt collection, and toll integration. My duty is to work closely with the product owner and other tech team members to lead the discussion and workshops on the specification of technical architecture for the projects.

As a leader at FREE NOW, how are you continuing to learn while working remotely?

FREE NOW recently offered me the opportunity to attend the Virtual Learning Space Summit hosted by CONTUR. This global summit was a great learning experience for me. There were speakers from 3 continents and participants from all over the world. Not only were there great sessions, but there were also interactive Q&A, Barcamps, and virtual chatrooms. You will find a lot of great technical conferences and summits. But not too many which focuses on leadership. In my opinion, attending conferences like this and meeting others is a great way of improving leadership.

What were your main takeaways/learnings from the summit?

Our world is changing and probably will not be the same anymore. So our leaders have to change too. We have to make the best use of the technology in hand to achieve our organizational goals.

How important do you think the topic of virtual meetings is for the current situation?

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, our payment team was already working in a semi-remote setup. We have team members located in Paris and Hamburg. So it was important for us as a team to be efficient in virtual meetings and given the current situation everyone has to do so. It’s important to put sufficient effort into it.

Meeting in a virtual environment comes with its own set of challenges. First of all virtual meetings tend to be more formal than in-person ones, so it is important to have an ice breaker part. Secondly, as the number of meetings has increased significantly since every interaction is now virtual, it’s important to make these meetings as efficient as possible. As a rule of thumb, every meeting should have a meeting agenda, reading material which should be supplied beforehand, and clear mention of what we want to achieve from the meeting.

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Photo from Unsplash

But for me, the biggest challenge is to make sure of the participation of all members. A meeting facilitator role can help greatly in this regard. Finally, it’s really important to document the outcome in a shared space like confluence or shared documents and assign specific tasks to the relevant persons.

How does it work with online brainstorming?

This is the most difficult type of virtual meeting. But fortunately, you can use several tools which can help you in this regard. We use miro as a virtual collaboration tool, and also use Zoom’s break out features.

How are you currently organizing your virtual meetings? Do you follow a specific structure?

I try to follow the following structure for the virtual meetings I arrange

PRE MEETING

  • Prepare meeting agenda
  • Send relevant preparation material
  • Have a clear picture of what we want to achieve from the meeting
  • Setup relevant tools (zoom, miro, confluence)

IN MEETING

  • Ice breaker
  • Assign a meeting facilitator normally the host
  • Make it interactive and make sure of the participation of all members.
  • Document finding as to the meeting goes.

POST MEETING

  • Send the meeting minutes or the findings
  • Assign tasks to the relevant person
  • Schedule follow-up meetings if needed

I also try to mix up the virtual meetings by changing the icebreaker patterns, using different tools and approaches.

Do you have any advice for new leaders who are just starting to lead their own virtual meetings?

Preparation is the key and people are more important than technology. Good preparation before and participation of all attendees during the meeting will bring the best possible outcome.

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