I have been working from home and doing my business online for almost 15 years now so my daily life hasn’t really changed. But I know many of you have had some challenges with working from home and/or transitioning your business online. To help, I am sharing more of my experiences, tips, and suggestions to help you.
This week, let’s start with my Top 5 Tips for hosting a virtual meeting!
1. Be familiar with the technology, it is the best first step you can take. Many of you may be using Zoom, Teams, or Skype for the first time or at least for the first time with groups of people so it is essential to make sure you understand how the technology works. Be sure to view the tutorials that are available, use the “Practice Session” feature, and familiarize yourself with all of the features so you know how they work. There is nothing more frustrating for meeting attendees than when the meeting facilitator doesn’t know what they are doing.
2. Have an agenda so that everyone knows what to expect and how to prepare, and are able to follow along. We are used to having agenda’s for in-person meetings, but we sometimes skip them for virtual meetings, don’t! Have an agenda, share it in advance, and follow it.
3. Communicate with attendees in advance so they can also familiarize themselves with the platform, review the agenda, and be prepared. It is also an opportunity to get any input for the meeting and set any ground rules (bonus tip: set ground rules) for the virtual meeting. Most of the meeting platforms have a system built-in that allows you to communicate with attendees in advance, including reminders, surveys, etc. If you are using Skype or Zoom Basic then you can just email your team in advance the old fashioned way. It isn’t enough to just send folks the link, engage with them in advance so they can prepare and have clear expectations.
4. Maximize the features on whichever platform you use. Turn the cameras on, encourage people to use the chat feature, record the meeting for future reference, and take polls. Most of these features exist because they have been proven to increase engagement and participation so if that is what you want then use them.
5. Anticipate delays and technical challenges because they are inevitable! Start by encouraging everyone to arrive 10-15 minutes early for a sound and camera check. This enables you get any issues take care of early so you can start the meeting on time. During the meeting, it may be helpful to have a co-facilitator who can manage any technical problems that may arise during the meeting. Lastly, beware of delays, the 1-3 second sound lag that occurs when people speak online. Remember to be patient when you ask a question, give more response time then you would face to face to prevent speaking over one another.
Virtual meetings are not only opportunities to get work done, but to also build and maintain relationships with your team. Treat virtual meetings with same, if not more, care and intention as you would in-person meetings to make the most of the technology and to get the most from your team.