Strategic Planning with Virtual Meetings


Strategic planning sessions play a vital role in outlining the direction and goals of any organization. However, remote work and hybrid models have made it challenging for teams to conduct these sessions effectively. With the right preparation and techniques, you can make sure your virtual strategic planning sessions run smoothly. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for successful virtual strategic planning sessions.

How to Have a Successful Virtual Strategic Planning Session

1. Rethink Your Meeting Agenda

To avoid virtual meeting fatigue, you can break the strategic planning process into smaller, more concise meetings. This approach allows attendees to focus on one topic at a time, making it easier to remain engaged and contribute meaningfully to the discussion.

2. Ensure the Right Size and Composition of the Group

When conducting virtual strategic planning sessions, it's crucial to have the right balance of attendees to ensure productive discussions. Too few attendees, and the meeting ideas may be limited, while too many attendees may lead to scattered discussions.

3. Ensure All Attendees are Familiar With the Technology

Remote meetings can be disrupted by technical issues. Therefore, it's essential to ensure that all attendees are familiar with the technology prior to the virtual planning session, have access to the necessary resources, and are aware of the protocols.

4. Appoint a Facilitator and Assign Other Roles

As with physical meetings, virtual meetings need a facilitator to keep discussions focused and ensure everyone's voices are heard. You can also assign roles like timekeeper, note-taker and participant tracker to ensure the smooth running of the meeting and that the team stays on track with the agenda.

5. Create a Team Feeling

Virtual strategic planning sessions need not be impersonal. You can create a team atmosphere before and during the meeting. Send out an agenda, have pre-meeting chats, use ice breakers, and encourage attendees to engage in team-building activities.

6. Make Sure all Faces are Visible

Seeing the faces of everyone in attendance makes it easier for people to engage in discussions. Ensure that everyone can turn on their cameras and that they have adequate lighting, audio, and internet connections to avoid distractions.

7. Define Basic Rules of Virtual Meeting Etiquette

As with in-person meetings, virtual meetings need to have rules. It's essential to define the rules, such as timely arrival, controlled interruptions, and interaction with others.

8. Minimize Presentations, Maximize Discussions

Presentations that run for too long can lead to disengagement and boredom. Therefore, it's essential to keep the presentations short and sweet and allow time for discussions. An interactive session where participants can ask questions and give feedback will keep everyone engaged.

9. Use Well-Planned Sessions to Foster Collaboration

A well-planned session that is facilitated correctly ensures that everyone gets their say. Good facilitation balances engagement and control, fostering a sense of collaboration and ensuring everyone has a voice.

10. Use Break-Out Groups and Other Virtual Technology Tools

Remote breakouts can help attendees discuss in smaller groups and provide valuable feedback. Virtual technology tools like screen sharing, whiteboards, and real-time brainstorming can also keep teams engaged.

11. Take Frequent Breaks

Virtual meetings can be draining, both mentally and physically. Take frequent breaks to help alleviate the intensity and pressure of the sessions. The breaks are also essential for attendees to recharge and refocus.

12. Determine the Next Steps

The final phase of the strategic planning session should be dedicated to making practical decisions and outlining the next steps. To ensure everyone is on the same page, it's essential to document the decision and set timelines for the action items.

13. Keep an Overflow List

During any strategic planning sessions, there may be ideas that don't make the final cut. Therefore, it's essential to capture such ideas in an overflow document. These ideas can be revisited later, or the overflow document can be incorporated into the next strategic planning session.

As we adjust to virtual work, virtual strategic planning sessions are becoming the norm. Like in-person strategic planning sessions, good facilitation, preparation, communication, and engagement are essential for successful virtual strategic planning sessions. We hope these tips have been useful in making your virtual strategic planning sessions productive and enjoyable for everyone involved.