Guidelines for Chair and Convenor to virtual meetings
This article is an extract of the Participation guidelines for virtual meetings.ppt, published in April 2020
In this article
This article is relevant for:
Chair and convenor
Before the virtual meeting
- Plan your meeting ahead in collaboration with your Committee Manager or Convenor Support:
Develop a clear agenda with realistic goals set. A 2-3-hour maximum duration is recommended for a virtual meeting. Plan for additional meetings in case more time is required to complete the work.
Anticipate items that may require longer discussions and think of options that could help the committee or working group move forward in your meeting.
Consider potential cultural or language barriers (if any).
- Work with the Committee Manager/Convenor Support in advance of the meeting to focus the agenda on action items and handle all informational reports in writing by correspondence, in order not to consume limited virtual meeting time on informational items.
- Discuss and decide with the Committee Manager/Convenor Support in advance how to run the meeting in practice (for example, who will host the meeting and control screen sharing, who will control chat and answer questions, who will mute participants, etc.). You may need to mobilize an extra resource to monitor comments.
- Familiarize yourself with the ISO Code of Conduct and with the definition of consensus in the ISO environment:
“Consensus: general agreement, characterized by the absence of sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests and by a process that involves seeking to take into account the views of all parties concerned and to reconcile any conflicting arguments.
NOTE Consensus need not imply unanimity.”
Meeting notices are required 8 weeks in advance for plenary virtual meetings and 4 weeks for working group virtual meetings.
30 minutes before the virtual meeting
- Test your connection well in advance. Plan to connect to the meeting at least 15 minutes beforehand to ensure it starts on time – See ISO Quick Guide to Zoom Meetings.
During the virtual meeting
- Share your screen as needed.
- Make sure your introduction has 3 elements:
“Human relations”: Welcome participants using their first name, clarify roles, set the atmosphere.
“Process”: Explain the logistics of the meeting and how you expect the virtual interaction to run.
“Structured objective”: Make sure participants understand the objective of the meeting and its expected outcomes according to the agenda.
- Tips to engage participants:
Always invite them to introduce themselves before they speak.
Note who speaks (especially when the webcam is off).
Engage those who speak less frequently.
Start your question using the first name of the person to make people feel at ease.
Take note of ideas/feedback from participants.
- Tips to help Chairs and Convenors achieve consensus:
Ensure participants have a clear understanding of the agenda's objectives, milestones, and timeline.
Learn, understand, respect and leverage cultural differences.
Seek to understand before being understood.
Foster cohesion and build trust.
Communicate directly and indirectly – some participants will use direct, explicit communication in asking questions and identifying problems, while others are indirect in asking and responding (e.g. chat function).
Decision-making: participants may differ in how much information and analysis they need to make decisions. Plan your meeting items and allocate discussion time accordingly. If discussions take longer than expected, consider reasonable re-allocation of discussion time or determine if decisions are possible through a committee internal ballot or an additional separate meeting.
Resolve conflicts quickly and peacefully. Take potential time-consuming issues offline to maintain meeting momentum.
Make sure any silence in discussion really does imply consensus – don't assume.
Just before a vote, summarize the points on which participants are expected to take a decision. The clearest option is to summarize the points on the shared screen – to avoid any misunderstanding.
- Manage discussions: For additional information on how to manage discussions during a virtual meeting, please see Best practices to conduct virtual meetings successfully.
- Closing the meeting:
Clearly summarize decisions made and outcomes by sharing them on your screen.
Thank participants for their engagement, input and ideas.
End on time.
After the virtual meeting (convenor only)
- Ensure that meeting resolutions are circulated within 48 hours.
- Ensure the minutes, including the follow-up actions, are saved in the committee or working group workspace as N-documents within 4 weeks.
A feedback survey has been incorporated into ISO Meetings and will automatically be sent to participants after the meeting.
ISO/TC 301/WG 15 has been using the ISO Virtual standards development process (IVP) through a pilot for a year. Useful feedback and information on their experience is available here: