You’ve seen the memes, you’ve watched the parodies, and you’ve probably already attended what might feel like a million hours – virtual meetings are the new way we’re communicating. While many features are similar to meetings you hold in person, there are key areas that make or break the success of your pivot to virtual.
Katie Hoffman has been leading world-class in-person meetings and experiences for our company and clients for more than a decade. So, it’s no surprise that she hopped in with both feet to help our entire team “up” our virtual meeting game. We asked her to share some of the important areas to focus on when organizing or leading a virtual meeting. Here are her top four tips.
When there is a screen between you and your audience, no amount of charisma can overcome a lack of preparation. Create detailed agendas and PPT decks for every meeting, then practice until you know what’s coming without looking at the next slide. Send all attendees the agenda in advance. Knowing when breaks are scheduled will cut down on interruptions, and having a clear agenda helps everyone stay on track.
Energy is the key to success in virtual meetings, and one way to boost your energy is through your setup.
- Place your webcam at eye-level (if your laptop camera is in a bad location, get a USB webcam)
- Be sure that you can see yourself clearly when looking directly at the camera
- Keep all papers, pens, and fidget toys out of the way so you don’t accidentally make noise
- Prepare for delayed responses and an inability to read the crowd
Setting a few ground rules for those who will attend the meeting helps create the best environment possible for connection.
Sample Rules for Attendees:
- Engage Fully: All cameras on unless it's a presentation only webinar
- Commit to Focus: Close your email, chats, and web browser
- Take Notes: It can be easier to tune out during a virtual meeting, so take notes to help process the information
IN MEETING ENGAGEMENT
Distractions will be pulling attendee focus from many different angles, but engagement is your secret weapon. Aim to engage the audience with a question, poll, chat, quiz, or breakout group every 5 minutes. This can be as simple as asking a question that can be answered quickly in the room chat, or as complex as sending everyone to breakout rooms to have more in-depth conversations. You can also use techniques such as varying your voice tone and the speed at which you are talking to keep the audience engaged.
There are many factors that go into producing a great virtual meeting, but with some practice you can feel confident leading successful and engaging meetings. For a tip sheet filled with even more suggestions, please visit here.