Successful virtual meetings hinge on inviting the right meeting attendees.
Inviting the wrong people is sure to sabotage it. Leave someone out, and you may lack the perspective to make an informed decision. Have too many people in the meeting, and it can become unfocused and a waste of time.
Let’s choose the right meeting attendees for your next virtual meeting.
Attendee Selection: Why It's Important
The purpose of your meeting is to solve a problem, arrive at a decision, or make progress towards a goal. Your agenda should make this clear.
And the right meeting attendees will be anyone who contributes to this mission—colleagues, team members, or anyone from an external organization (VCs, affiliate partners, agencies, etc.)
Bringing the right people into the right conversations will ensure you accomplish your organizational goals.
So how do you choose the right meeting attendees for your next virtual meeting? Here are six ways to select quality participants.
How To Select The Right Meeting Attendees For Your Next Virtual Meeting
1. Get clear on the purpose of your meeting
A clear meeting agenda is the first step to knowing who to invite.
Starting with the end in mind will create a clear vision for the outcomes you want.
Once you identify the purpose of your meeting, it’s much easier to select the right people to invite. It’ll help you identify who’s responsible for each objective. Or at the very least, it helps you understand the types of people you want in your next meeting (perhaps someone with a background in IT, engineering, or marketing).
Question for you: What’s the purpose of your next virtual meeting? Create a clear agenda.
2. Invite people with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to accomplish your meeting agenda
Everybody has skills, knowledge, and resources. But a successful virtual meeting has the right combination to fulfill the meeting agenda.
Treat it like a puzzle. Once you’ve identified the purpose of the meeting, the next step is to figure out who can add value.
For instance, let’s say the purpose of your next meeting is to brainstorm new product ideas. Maybe you’d invite a great idea generator, a salesperson who receives customer feedback, or a marketer who creates content for your brand.
Question for you: Who has the skills, knowledge, and/or resources to accomplish your meeting agenda?
3. Leave your guilt at the virtual door
One reason why the wrong people get invited to virtual meetings is that the meeting organizer doesn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. This is valid. But consider the opportunity cost of inviting someone out of guilt:
- You may waste time explaining irrelevant information.
- The person being invited out of guilt misses out on getting work done.
- Other meeting participants may get distracted and, as a result, waste their time.
Make sure you have a clear plan for documenting important information from the meeting, and how you'll communicate it to people who aren't attending. This way, everyone stays up-to-date on what’s happening, feels included, and remains productive throughout the day.
Question for you: Is there anyone you’re inviting out of guilt?
4. Leave your ego at the virtual door
A good leader is confident in their ideas. But a great leader is confident even when someone comes up with a better idea.
In his book Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday explains why it's important to keep your ego in check:
“Pride blunts the very instrument we need to own in order to succeed: our mind. Our ability to learn, to adapt, to be flexible, to build relationships, all of this is dulled by pride.”
A great meeting facilitator is thrilled when someone else contributes a better idea.
But how does this relate to selecting the right meeting attendees for your next virtual meeting?
When your ego runs the show, you’ll be tempted to only invite people who make you look smarter. But this also means you’re not inviting participants who’ll challenge you, add fresh perspectives, and inspire innovation.
Question for you: Is your ego preventing you from inviting smart and insightful people?
5. Don’t invite people who create problems
This is obvious, but worth mentioning. Maintaining a positive and collaborative environment is crucial for having a successful meeting.
There may be meeting participants who cause unnecessary problems in your virtual meetings. They’re negative, bring people down, and leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Here are some red flags to look out for:
- Interrupting meeting participants.
- Challenging people in a disrespectful way.
- Contributing negative emotions to the meeting.
- Being combative and bringing people down, instead of lifting them up.
There are, of course, meetings where you must invite people like this (due to status, or position). In these situations, do your best to manage conflict. Or consider inviting a meeting participant who’s skilled at creating social harmony and disarming political landmines.
Questions for you: Does everyone have mutual respect for all meeting participants? If unavoidable, how can you create harmony among all attendees?
6. Aim for diverse perspectives and a balanced virtual room
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
Virtual meetings are the same.
Adding diverse perspectives to a room, when accompanied by mutual respect, gives the meeting energy and power. What tends to emerge is creativity, collaboration, and innovation.
This might mean you switch up your meetings. Instead of only inviting marketers, you add a few engineers into the mix.
Question for you: Do my meeting participants bring a balanced perspective to the table?
You’re now equipped to select the right meeting attendees for your next virtual meeting. This will improve your effectiveness, collaboration, and productivity as an individual (and organization). And you’ll feel much more satisfied post-meeting.
Want more tips for having an effective virtual meeting? Check out our article on the 4 virtual meeting mistakes that will sabotage your team’s effectiveness.
And once you choose the right participants for your next virtual meeting, use Undock to instantly schedule across teams, organizations, and time zones. It’s free!