Remote work

A manager's guide to remote teamwork: Facilitation Tips

March 27, 2020
If you only do one thing in 2020: Ask better questions to improve your one-to-ones!

See the full Manager's Remote Working Handbook here

Meetings are more effective when they have an owner who chairs or facilitates. This is never more true than in remote meetings. Without a good facilitator, you’ll see people taking over the meeting, others losing interest because they can’t get a word in edgeways or long, awkward silences.


As the team leader, this responsibility often falls on you. However, you shouldn’t be ashamed of nominating someone else in your team as facilitator if they have a knack for it! In any case, here are some golden rules to ensure remote meetings run smoothly.

If the meeting has more than 8 participants…

Agree to raise your hand to speak. It’s a simple, effective way of allowing everyone to speak rather than just the loudest or pushiest person on the call. And it will make you feel like a school-kid again so win-win. 

Make sure everyone feels included in discussions

  • Invite participation: Don’t be afraid to call someone out by name and ask for their input. 
  • Watch out for interruptions. If you feel that someone was interrupted before they had a chance to finish, invite them back into the conversation, “Ben, did you have any additional thoughts to share on this point?”
  • If you want to take a quick vote or gauge everyone’s opinion on something, ask them to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down. This way everyone’s view counts.
  • Be aware of who is most likely to feel marginalised in the first place. The most introverted member of the group may have a hard time ‘butting in’ to be heard.

Start every meeting with an icebreaker

Gallup has consistently found having a good friend at work leads to better performance. Building these types of relationships in remote teams is harder so it’s important to spend time on informal communication. Start every meeting with an icebreaker even if you’ve been working together for some time. Slowly you’ll learn more about the team and they’ll learn what they have in common. 

Spend some time setting the scene

In face-to-face meetings, you wouldn’t jump to the first agenda item/task. You’d set the scene, explain what’s most important for today and encourage participation. The same principle applies for remote coaching sessions.

Next: Increase resilience in your remote team