By now, we’ve all attended at least one virtual meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it essential for all of us to learn new ways of conducting business—even if it means migrating to an online setting and working remotely. Luckily, we do have access to exceptional technology that allows us to continue to do business, even if in-person meetings are no longer a possibility in many cases.
While video conferencing tools like Zoom are helping millions of businesses to conduct meetings and events seamlessly throughout the pandemic, for many, it’s proving a little difficult to master the art of the online meeting. After all, to run an effective meeting, a whole new host of skills are required. Using this guide, you’ll be able to run an efficient and productive virtual meeting.
Have Someone Present to Let People Into the Meeting
With video conferencing apps like Zoom, the host often needs to be present to let attendees into the meeting room. To make the meeting as seamless as possible, assign someone to the role of “virtual receptionist.”
Make sure they are on hand a few minutes prior to the meeting’s start time to let people into the meeting room and introduce them to other early birds. This will give the meeting an extra professional feel and will set people at ease from the get-go.
Set Ground Rules
As you can easily imagine, virtual meetings can easily get confusing and chaotic, especially when there are lots of attendees. To ensure that the meeting runs smoothly, set some ground rules in advance. The following points can be extremely helpful in keeping things on track:
- Ask people to mute themselves when they don’t have the floor. This will help the speaker to get their points across and will prevent background noise from creating unnecessary distractions. With some apps, people’s video feeds will take over the screen when they make noise, which can be distracting for obvious reasons!
- Set rules for how people will contribute. A good way to do this is to assign someone the role of the meeting organizer. Ask people with questions or points to write a message in the chatbox. When an appropriate moment arises, the meeting leader can give this person the floor.
- Set rules about staying on topic. The meeting leader should have the power to divert the conversation back on track if the meeting veers off course onto a tangent.
With clear, pre-set rules, you won’t have to worry about the meeting taking a wrong turn. Plus, you’ll ensure that every speaker gets their turn!
Create an Itinerary and Make Sure Attendees are on the Same Page
In addition to sending attendees some ground rules in advance, send them a rough itinerary of what will be covered. Set aside a specific amount of time for each item on the agenda. This way, you can stay on course and cover everything you need to in the meeting.
Write a Script or a Guide for Presentations
If you are presenting ideas or products during the meeting, don’t feel as though you need to think on your feet. Prepare as you would for an in-person presentation, and jot down some notes on what you want to say. For more formal presentations, you might even write a rough script.
Make Use of Features Like Screen Sharing
While video conferencing isn’t always ideal, it does have some perks. Namely, that there are many features that can make sharing information quick and easy. Screen and file sharing is an excellent feature that allows you to share slides, images, and documents with all attendees. Some might even say it’s better than a projector!
Use Breakout Rooms for Smaller Group Sessions
Another excellent feature of many video conferencing apps is the breakout room feature. For longer business meetings, you may wish to split the large group into a few smaller groups. This will give people a chance to come up with ideas, reflect, and discuss.
Depending on the purpose of your breakout rooms, you can set the app to choose groups at random, or you can set the groups in advance. Using this feature will give the meeting structure and will help to keep all attendees engaged and active throughout.
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Even though businesses are operating largely online, lots of people are beginning to travel for business. Here in Toronto and the GTA, we’ve seen more and more executives visiting the city.
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