Tips for students, from an expert

Running successful virtual meetings

Dr Penny Pullan Headshot
Dr Penny Pullan is the author of several books, most recently Virtual Leadership: Practical Strategies for Getting the Best Out of Virtual Work and Virtual Teams. Her new book Making Workshops Work: Creative Collaboration for Our Time will be published by Practical Inspiration Publishing in March 2021.


Meetings are important in group work. Here are Penny’s Magic 6™ to set meetings up for success:

1. We are here to…

What is the point of your meeting? Can you define this purpose in 7-10 words?

2. Today we will…

What are your four or five goals for today's meeting?

3. Our time plan

Make sure everyone knows when it starts, when it ends and what happens in the middle.

4. Who is doing what in the meeting?

It is useful to identify and agree roles. If you are chairing the meeting, what do other people need to do? Making sure everyone is an active participant, rather than an audience, as this helps keep people engaged. That means they’re less likely to go and do something else.

5. How will we work together?

Agree how you’ll work together in the meeting. Examples for a virtual meeting include muting in a noisy environment (dogs, children?), and agreeing to check in with individuals regularly in random order (this keeps people listening rather than doing something else until they hear their name called).

6. What’s next?

What happens after the meeting? Who needs to do what and by when?



Know others

Think of the other people you are working with 

• What are their strengths and weaknesses – their personalities? Are they introverts for example?

• How can you work with them?

• How can they work with each other? Agree the group norms that you will use.



Creating rapport through common ground

In virtual teams, your individual identity is less tangible. Your appearance, ethnicity, generation and gender are less visible. Look for ways to find common ground, through shared interests and identify them. For example, for groups keen on life-long learning, you could compare the courses you are studying, the books you are reading. Or you can connect through your physical spaces. A useful exercise is to each look out of your window and describe what you can see to the rest of the group.



Getting the Best Out of Virtual Work and Virtual Teams is available from available from Kogan Page. Quote code VLF20 for a 20% discount.

Return to blog