Many business analysts are finding themselves working from home right now and needing to elicit requirements and conduct virtual meetings. If you’ve been historically used to working in-person, this can be a huge shift.
In this video, I share 3 quick tips for being more effective, and why virtual meetings are a huge opportunity to leap forward in your career.
Virtual Meetings Are a Huge Opportunity
Opportunity #1 – Strengthen Your Communication Skills
Inside all challenges are opportunities. The opportunity right now is that this is a time when we are facilitating virtually, so we actually get to strengthen our communication skills.
Anytime we are put in a new project domain, or work in a new way, we have the opportunity to hone our skills and go back to the basics. We get to use the basics to do our work better in the new environment.
Every time things change on the surface, what gets stronger are our business analysis skills.
As we are facilitating meetings online, what will get stronger is our communication and facilitation skills. We may have had some crutches that will no longer be effective. This is the time to identify and refine them.
Opportunity #2 – Shift to Virtual Work
Another opportunity is that if we can do this well, and continue to do this effectively on your projects, you can make a case for working virtually long term. I think we will see organizations shifting towards more virtual work. We will also see fewer requirements for travel, especially for business analyst consultants.
Virtual Meeting Best Practice #1: Stick to Tried-and-True Best Practices
Take your best and most engaging in-person business analyst techniques and bring them online.
We have a tendency to think that because everything has changed, we need to learn new skills from scratch. Here are some examples:
- Observation – While you may have done this sitting at someone’s desk, it can now be done through screen sharing.
- Brainstorming – Can be done through a shared Google document or virtual whiteboarding tool.
- Visual Models and Documentation – creating documents like business process models, use cases, and data models are all extremely useful in an online setting.
Don’t let a virtual meeting be an excuse to depart from time-tested best practices.
Also, don’t let virtual meetings be an excuse for a boring meeting. You want to do the things that create an interaction in an in-person setting and look for opportunities to bring those online.
Virtual Meeting Best Practice #2: Verbalize Body Language
If you are reviewing a document in a room full of people, you might be used to recognizing body language in person. That is a lot harder to tell online, even if you are sharing video. You also might not be getting accurate information. If someone is looking at a second monitor, you might be looking at your requirements document. Or you might be looking down to take notes.
Online cues are not the same as in-person cues. So you have to ask your participants to verbalize more. And you have to verbalize more yourself.
When you are reviewing a document, this could mean more active pauses. Another idea is to prepare specific questions in each section (which is a best practice we’ve been teaching for in-person business analysis work as well).
Stop with each section and invite input. And if there is no input, ask for confirmation from each person that there really is no feedback, versus tacit approval.
This will also prepare you to be more effective as a stronger facilitator in person to engage stakeholders, especially when you are building new relationships or dealing with extremely introverted stakeholders who don’t use a lot of body language.
Virtual Meeting Best Practice #3: Be Clear On Your Business Analysis Process
People are more naturally engaged when they know what the next step is, and how their work relates to the big picture. In our Quick Start to Success workshop, you’ll learn the 8-step business analysis process framework that we teach at Bridging the Gap. Please feel free to leverage this framework as a starting point.
Again, this is great when you are working in an in-person setting as well. But it’s even more important online, not just for meetings, but also to effectively communicate what you are doing as a business analyst and what your next step is. Making your process clear sets you up for success, and prepares you to step up into more leadership roles.
>> Start YOUR Path to Success
If you are looking for more success as a business analyst, the absolute best next thing to do is to join my free Quick Start to Success Workshop. In that workshop, you will learn more about the business analyst career path, as well as details about the business analysis process framework that will give you the structure that you need to manage your day and your projects appropriately.
Again, if business analysis is right for you, we are here to help you at Bridging the Gap. We provide online training and certification to business analysts who are looking to start and succeed in their business analyst careers.
For now, just remember that we build our profession one business analyst at a time. Success starts with you.
Thanks for being here.
>>Looking for More Support?
Consider the Effective Conversations Template Collection which contains 20 conversation scripts with 3-5 minute videos to ensure you know exactly what to say in some of the toughest situations business analysts face.