The past few months have seen unprecedented change in the way we work and interact with clients, customers, colleagues, suppliers, even family and friends in the face of the global lockdown and social distancing. Those on the front line of essential services such as the NHS, & Emergency services, utilities, postal service workers; etc., have not experienced too much change in their working lives unlike the majority of business owners and workers who have been on lockdown for five-weeks in the UK.
I am sure I don’t have to tell you that the pandemic is changing the world on many levels. We all know that with change comes the challenges and one of the biggest challenges to be faced by businesses has been maintaining a connection with clients, customers, colleagues, suppliers. Utilising video conferencing facilities is one way in which meetings of any kind can go ahead while protecting yourself and others from contracting and/or spreading the virus.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen apps like Zoom, come into their own – Zoom, Skype, Group Video Chat on Social Media; all seen a major uptake of users… as workers, and business owners work from home and try to keep business afloat as well as keep in touch with family and friends.
While virtual meetings may have on the surface of things, have nothing to do with risk management – one of the many risks businesses are facing is “shrinkage”… so there is a need to learn effective use of the available technology and embrace it to keep business going.
Video Conferencing is not the only option for maintaining connection and communication; however, video calls are an added tool in your communication arsenal, especially when seeing the people you are meeting with is of the same if not higher importance than being heard (phone calls) and read (email & text message).
Top Tips for running a successful Virtual Meeting.
- Specify your meeting norms.
a. The communications platform you will be using
b. As some of your virtual meeting members might not be familiar with the technology, provide clear instructions on how to use the chosen platform and/or technology
c. Have a test run, with your meeting attendees before the actual meeting, to iron out any kinks.
d. Think about other rules which you might want to specify. (Team meetings might have different requirements to as virtual consultation or virtual networking event.)
- Design the structure of your meeting.
Think about the nature of the virtual meeting, the aims and objectives of the meeting.
a. Prepare an agenda for the meeting and share it with attendees in advance of the meeting. Preparing and sharing the meeting agenda will define the full purpose and matters being covered.
b. Mention the responsible people names who can help in different situations to get the meeting back on track if anything breaks down
c. Be open to being flexible, especially if something goes wrong with the tech.
d. Decide who will be the facilitator or note taker. Some video conferencing platforms allow you to record the virtual meeting audio and video which may negate the need for a note-taker. e. Have a technical support plan – just in case something goes wrong.
- Create an Appropriate environment.
Hosting virtual meetings from your home during the lockdown can be stressful, especially if you have small children and pets…
a. If you don’t have a home office; then prepare a cozy environment within your home.
b. Test you setting and set-up, make sure your lighting is good, and that you can be heard.
c. Engage your attendees with casual chat and give them the time to see who else is in the virtual meeting room with them. This is especially important when hosting group meetings.
c. For some people virtual meetings will be a whole new thing – so give your attendees time to settle in the room.
- Embrace Feedback
a. Like all things in work and life – there is always room for improvement, so encourage feedback from all attendees to identify what you are doing well and areas that could need improvement.
b. Remember you are likely to be hosting and/or attending many virtual meetings in the current environment. The more virtual events you attend, the better you will get at the process and the more familiar you will become with the many applications out there.
c. Don’t leave getting feedback as an afterthought – If you have a feedback form, share it with your attendees before your meeting and make time at the end of the meeting to allow attendees to complete your forms to send back to you.
- Motivating and Encouraging Attendees
a. This is very important for you because you need your attendees to actively participate in the virtual meeting, especially if you are hosting or attending team or networking meetings.
b. If your attendees are not motivated and engaged, you will struggle to achieve the designed outcomes of the meeting.
c. If group meetings are a bit much for you to begin with, try rolling out one-two-one meetings as part of your learning curve.
- During the meeting
a. Make sure that every person has their turn to respond in an organised manner.
b. Don’t multi-task while in your virtual meeting.
Finally – remember the virtual world is a mirror of the real world
- don’t do or say anything during your virtual meeting that you would not say or do in during an in-person meeting.
- allow a little more time at the beginning and end of the virtual meeting to thank your attendees, for their time and participation; and the all-important feedback.
- Be sure to share meeting minutes with attendees after the meeting.
We hope you have found this helpful – and if you need help or advice about virtual meetings, please don’t hesitate to reach out.