Virtual strategic planning: How to plan and run successful meetings

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
 and 
  —  
January 2, 2024
An image of a man sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen, which shows a virtual meeting including several other people

The quality of your strategic planning meetings doesn’t have to be compromised just because your team is remote or hybrid. There are many ways to make even the most complicated remote meetings successful and efficient.

No matter how simple or complex your strategic planning model is, you can have a successful virtual meeting by following a few best practices. 

Follow these steps to face ‌challenges and seize opportunities in your next virtual strategic planning session.

1. Prepare effectively

When you prepare for your virtual strategic planning meeting ahead of time, it gives team members clarity and direction so you can make the most of your time. For example, a clear agenda helps everyone know what to focus on and how to contribute. It reduces ambiguity, so your discussions are always productive, preventing tangents and unnecessary diversions.

Related: Get started with Mural’s free Strategy Map template

Set a goal for your planning meeting. Your goal will help you create your agenda by uncovering what needs to be discussed in the meeting. It may be broad, like “Refine our strategy from last year,” or it you can make it more specific, like “Create a strategy that helps us reduce customer acquisition costs.” 

Then, write an agenda that aligns with your goals. For instance, if your goal is to refine the strategy from last year, the agenda might include sections for reviewing past performance, identifying areas for improvement, and setting actionable goals for the upcoming year. Each agenda item should directly contribute to achieving the meeting's goal.

Send your agenda out in advance so folks can give input. Try to give them at least 24 hours to review the agenda, but aim for a few days so they can make time to prepare. 

2. Choose tools that make collaboration and communication easy

With the right tools, you can overcome the challenges of virtual meetings. Products like visual work platforms and video-calling tools enable active engagement from your participants during strategy planning. 

Features like chat functions, online whiteboards, and polling promote interaction and encourage attendees to contribute and share ideas throughout the meeting.

Collaboration tools also help with decision-making by facilitating real-time discussions and swift access to relevant data or documents. Everyone uses the same information to draw conclusions, develop solutions, and make decisions.

If you already have the tools you need for your meeting, make sure you grant all participants access to these tools. Include a brief explanation of how to use the tool, especially if any participants are new or haven’t used it before. 

If you don’t have all the tools you need, first identify which tools you need and what purpose they’ll serve. For example, you may need a visual work platform as a single source of truth to share all ideas and action items during the meeting. These platforms also facilitate seamless visual collaboration during remote meetings.

Be sure to test all of your tech and tools ahead of time, so they’re ready for use. For instance, test your video-calling platform to make sure everyone can join the meeting without technical issues. 

3. Run several short sessions, not one long meeting

Shorter sessions help your attendees maintain focus and attention throughout. In a virtual setting, attention spans can diminish over extended periods. People are more apt to feel the effects of Zoom fatigue, and then engagement starts to fall. When meetings are concise and targeted, attendees are more likely to actively contribute ideas and engage in discussions. 

Consider breaking up your planning meeting into sessions based on a topic or committee. For example, you could segment ‌meetings by finance, marketing, IT, and operations. When each session has a clear focus, participants can concentrate on the topic at hand. 

Build breaks between sessions into the agenda — include several shorter breaks throughout the day and one long one for lunch. Shorter, frequent breaks allow participants to recharge, stretch, and re-energize, preventing mental exhaustion. These breaks are essential for participants’ well-being and help sustain engagement and productivity throughout the day.

4. Keep all resources organized and easily accessible 

In a virtual setting where meeting participants aren’t on the same network, it’s crucial to have resources and documents in a place where everyone can access them.

  • Stay organized: Organized resources reduce interruptions and keep everyone on track. Your team won’t have to stop the meeting to search for or ask for a resource. 
  • Centralize all of your resources: Create a dedicated folder or workspace within the chosen file-sharing platform (like Google Drive or Dropbox) for your strategic planning meeting. Include shared documents, research, reports, insights, and data repositories. Organize it logically, separating documents into folders by topic, date, or relevance. Use clear labeling and intuitive structuring so participants can easily navigate the workspace and locate resources without confusion. 
  • Update sharing settings: Share access permissions with all attendees before the meeting, allowing them to view, edit, and collaborate on documents in real time during the session. 

5. Review action items at the end

Before concluding the meeting, go over your list of action items out loud. Alongside each action item, specify who's responsible, whether it’s an individual or a team, and set clear deadlines or milestones. Participants will end the session with a clear understanding of what tasks they're accountable for and the collective goals they are working toward. No one will leave the planning meeting confused or unsure of their role, which minimizes the chances of a delay in tasks being done or other issues arising. 

Document each action item and add the resource to your shared workspace or folder. For instance, you might use Google Docs or a collaborative task management tool like Asana or Trello to list action items, assign responsibilities, and set deadlines. This shared document becomes a living reference that team members can revisit, update, and use to track progress.

6. Schedule follow-up meetings 

Checking in allows you to review achievements, address obstacles, and overcome challenges that have arisen since the first meeting. Regular meetings also allow for agile adjustments, ensuring that strategies remain aligned with organizational goals and that course corrections are made on time.

Related: Why check-ins should be part of your team meeting culture

Follow-up meetings include progress check-in meetings, implementation meetings, and similar sessions. For example, a progress check-in might focus on reviewing the status of action items and milestones, while an implementation meeting may concentrate on executing specific strategies outlined in the initial plan. 

Before you conclude your virtual strategic planning meeting, set expectations with participants for follow-up meetings. Let them know what you have planned so they can set aside time in their schedules for these follow-ups.

During your follow-up meetings, create an environment that fosters open dialogue and encourages folks to share updates, challenges, and successes. Facilitate honest discussions on strategies, potential hurdles, and solutions to ensure alignment and a swift resolution of issues.

Improve the success of your virtual strategic planning meeting with Mural

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven business environment, effective remote strategic planning is vital for organizational success. For your next virtual strategic planning meeting, Mural can help.

Mural’s visual work platform elevates and streamlines your virtual strategic planning meetings. Using Mural’s strategy and alignment templates, you’ll jumpstart your planning process so you can make the most of your time. These templates give you a starting point, enabling your team to kick off discussions and delve into strategic planning with ease.

Learn how Mural can help you drive a successful virtual strategic planning session, and use our library of templates for free.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.

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