Hosting Successful Virtual Meeting: What to know

Remote work arrangement has been forced onto the business world by the highly contagious coronavirus. In-person meetings are very risky to host right now, so staff, shareholders, and other stakeholders have to dial into meetings from remote locations. And noting that in-person meetings aren’t always the smoothest to organize, or entirely productive for that matter, many business leaders have been reluctant to hold virtual meetings out of the fear that they might even be less productive than in-house meetings. They fear that attendees might feel at liberty to sit back and tune out for the entire length of the meeting. But, with the right purpose and design, virtual meetings can be productive and fun. Here are some simple, best practices that will help you host a successful virtual meeting:

1. Having the right technology

This is your starter pack:

  • A strong Wi-Fi connection.
  • Quality audio devices- computer speakers, headphones, and microphones.
  • Quality visual devices, ideally a standalone webcam if you are using a desktop, or the inbuilt webcam on your laptop.
  • A projection screen or large TV monitor if you will be making any demonstrations or presentations.

Note that you don’t need sophisticated technology to host a successful meeting online. Just keep everything simple but functional. After all, you want the attendees to focus more on your message on the technology.

Still, on technology, ensure that you choose the best video conferencing system. Some of your options include GoToMeeting, Adobe Acrobat Connect, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. There also are newer and more effective platforms such as Zoom. You are spoilt of options, quite literally.

2. Test the technology ahead of time
Ensure that everything is working prior to your virtual meeting to avoid the embarrassments that come with technical glitches. Encourage all participants to test theirs as well to avoid delays.

3.
Prepare sufficiently

Setting up the technology is part of your preparation, not the whole of it. Even before you set up the technology, you already had set the agenda and purpose of the meeting, you had communicated to the attendees of the objectives you all need to achieve, and you had set the date and time of the virtual meeting. Now that your technology is set, preferably a day before the meeting, it is time to go through your notes and get your data right. Call all attendees or send them an email blast reminding them of the time and agenda of the meeting. If you have an external facilitator, get in touch with them to make sure that everything is going as per the plan. If you need a timekeeper during the meeting, appoint one and let them know. If you need to set ground rules, set them and communicate them to the team beforehand. Prepare for everything, including what you think might go wrong.

4. Choose the right interpreters

If you are holding a meeting with multilingual attendees, your only chance of communicating in real time and in the language everyone understands is through an interpreting agency. A good interpreting agency should offer you simultaneous interpretation for all your predetermined target languages, regardless of the length of your meeting, technicality of the subject matter, or time zone differences amongst your attendees.

5. Maintain meeting etiquette

Always remember that you are hosting a meeting. Your full attention should be on the participants and the topic at hand. Don’t multitask, don’t check your social media, forget about the mail, and don’t go to the bathroom more frequently than you would if you were in an in-person meeting. Try not to eat or drink during the meeting. Remember you are the host, so you must always be ready to protect participants from unnecessary interruptions from other participants. Give everyone enough time to respond to questions and air out their views. Avoid fixating your eyes at someone’s image and instead look into your camera so that, on their end, the participants will see like you’re looking directly at them. That is necessary for a strong connection.

6. Keep people engaged
Use relatable stories, visual representations, and jokes to keep people interested. Engage them with questions and tasks within the meeting; avoid the temptation of walking all the time. If someone is a scribe or a timekeeper at one point, for example, chances are that he/she will be focused through and through.

Conclusion

Virtual meetings are a fundamental part of business management during the coronavirus pandemic; probably long after the virus. So, even if you think virtual meetings are frustrating and ineffective, you better start figuring out ways to make them effective and efficient. The 6 tips above will come in handy.

Matt Rivera
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