Productive virtual meetings are possible!

July 27, 2020

Laptop with virtual meeting on screen and a coffee cup to the leftEffective leaders know that well-thought-out decisions require the input of many voices and perspectives. Engaging your community in important discussions can be challenging even when we are in the same room together. Now that we are meeting virtually, it may seem impossible for local governments, nonprofits, businesses and community members to work together to innovate, collaborate and create positive change.

During the last several months, we’ve been learning that it is not only possible, but highly effective! Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) specialists have been working with communities and organizations to design and facilitate strategic planning, just-in-time action planning, and public engagement processes in virtual settings. 

Like everyone, we have been learning which technology tools work best, creative ways to engage people in productive discussions, and helpful tips and tools we can share with our partners so they can run effective and engaging meetings.

A few of the virtual planning sessions we have designed and facilitated for regional, state, and local groups include:

Just-in-time Action Planning  

  • Short-term planning for the next 3-12 months
  • Teams work together to assess and redefine their focus and priorities; clearly defining actions, roles, responsibilities and time line 

Strategic Planning

  • Longer-term planning for the next 12-18 months
  • Helps the group create a shared practical vision; name the barriers keeping them from that vision; identify new directions and strategies to propel them forward; and create and commit to a focused implementation plan.

Goal Setting

  • Focuses on local community and economic development and the impacts of COVID-19
  • Participants consider past accomplishments, current issues and trends, ongoing commitments, and new or emerging priorities and initiatives

Community Conversations

  • Creates a setting for meaningful and facilitated discussions
  • Allows participants to share and broaden perspectives, revealing existing consensus; creates shared meaning/sense making in complex situations

For more information about designing and facilitating virtual meetings, contact Aimee Viniard-Weideman aimeevw@iastate.edu.

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