Virtual meetings are becoming increasingly common as employees work remotely and teams are spread across the country or even globally. It can be a challenge to present with impact when you are not in the same physical location as the rest of your team. So without the nonverbal cues or interaction one might take for granted in a face to face meeting, how does one keep their team members involved and engaged? This week we’ll be covering four simple tips for making the most of your virtual meetings.
1. Know your online meeting tools. In order to make the most of your virtual meeting, you must have an intimate knowledge of your online meeting software’s capabilities. The first step is choosing which platform is the best fit for your needs. There are a number of different programs available with varying capabilities and costs, including Adobe Connect, WebEx, GoToMeeting, ReadyTalk, and others. Whiteboards, chat functions, sharing screens, etc., allow some level of interactivity while meeting virtually. Learn the tools like the back of your hand and determine how you can incorporate them in order to make your meeting more engaging and interactive.
2. Provide accurate technical details to attendees in advance. This includes distributing all necessary links, phone numbers, and passcodes in advance. Prepare all supplemental materials beforehand and distribute them via email or within your virtual meeting room. Your intent here is to get people logged in and ready to go on time so that you can wholly focus on the content. This may be challenging for including certain countries, where the infrastructure is not reliable. There is not a lot which can be done about that, but having back up plans such as using the telephone lines, usually the most stable alternative, may be needed.
3. Change the action. Listen for signs of boredom from participants and keep your meeting interactive and varied. Feature a number of different layouts and visuals to spice things up. As mentioned, add interactive elements such as polls, chats, whiteboard activities, and screen shares to keep your participants involved and engaged. Get people using all of the interactive tools you learned earlier, do the unexpected!
4. Encourage the use of webcams. It can be difficult to replicate the impact of a face to face meeting when your participants are not in the same physical location. However, you can overcome this by encouraging everyone to use webcams while speaking. Today’s technology is getting better and better at allowing larger numbers of people to be visible on screen at the same time. This way you can preserve the gesticulations, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues that give your meeting personality. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words and how much more valuable is a "moving picture"!