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Virtual meetings have become a mainstay for many businesses practically overnight, enabling teams and even entire companies to make plans, keep projects moving and serve customers in a time when most of the country is working from home. Services like WebEx and Zoom are keeping the workforce connected, engaged and motivated, and it’s likely that their efficacy will keep them in use long after our shared quarantine has ended.
The virtual environment offers different challenges than a face-to-face meeting, but you can create an effective remote meeting by taking steps to ensure your meeting is both visual and interactive.
When scheduling your meeting, determine if the group is small enough to accommodate everyone’s verbal participation; if not, change the default setting to mute participants.
In advance of your virtual meeting, send participants an email to set expectations and ground rules, such as to connect a few minutes early so the meeting can start on time, to call in from a quiet place if possible, to be prepared to be seen and heard (if applicable) throughout the call.
As with any meeting, preparation is key. Create visual aids such as presentation slides to support the discussion you anticipate. Also plan ahead for different ways to generate interactivity and participation using the tools discussed below.
Opening the Meeting
Setting expectations is an important step in shifting attendees from passive listeners to active participants. After your initial greeting, visually share the agenda and the meeting’s objectives or outcomes, such as the decision that needs to be reached or next steps to be defined. This helps focus participants’ attention.
Ask people to turn on their video, as this helps replicate the real-life experience and is a key aspect of the group feeling connected. Let everyone know who else is in the meeting, either by sharing a list on a presentation slide or pointing out the visual gallery of participants. For smaller groups, ask people to introduce themselves verbally.
Explain how you will interact throughout the call, whether that will be through chat or verbally for smaller groups. Ask participants to open their chat window and respond to an ice breaker question so they get used to participating and invite them to use chat throughout the meeting.
Much more so than during an in-person meeting, participants in remote meetings can become distracted by emails or even other calls if they’ve hidden their video. In addition to the visual support you’ve already created and are sharing throughout the meeting, remote meeting platforms offer tools to help keep participants engaged:
Closing the Meeting
At the end of your meeting, share the whiteboard a final time and recap what was decided, next steps and any future meetings planned. After the meeting, send an email to participants with the whiteboard attached.
To connect with Jeannie Clinkenbeard, Senior Leadership Consultant with FCC Services email her at Jeannie.Clickenbeard@fccservices.com. She looks forward to hearing from you! We’re here to help.
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