September 09, 2017

How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting

By Sona Mathews
More and more business owners are embracing virtual technologies for webinars, training, and conferences. While the integration of these new forms of communication can greatly aid the productivity of any business, they can also come with a few pitfalls and setbacks. This is especially true for video conferencing.

How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting: eAskme
How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting: eAskme

Unintentional virtual meeting faux pas are bound to happen as individuals adjust to new technologies. Follow these pro-active tips to ensure your virtual office is geared towards success.

Preparation is Key

How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting: eAskme

Physical meetings can be more casual when it comes to agenda and providing materials since everyone will be in the same building, able to communicate with each other in and out of the meeting room as well as share materials. The virtual meeting requires much more planning if you want it to be as efficient as possible.

Send your agenda ahead of time and send visuals or required reading material to the participants well before the meeting approaches. It is also crucial to send log-in information a day ahead of time so that participants can test for any software downloads needed, as well as eliminate any issues with logging in.

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To eliminate connectivity issues, ask participants to log in at least 15 minutes early. Since these issues cannot always be avoided, it is important to give participants a method to reach you offline as well.

Technical Requirements

In most cases, the more advanced technology you have working together the better. This isn't the case for video conferencing. Instead, keeping things as simple as possible will help to avoid dozens of unwanted interruptions and errors caused by devices. All you really need is an internet connection, audio, and a webcam.

How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting: eAakme

It is also important to note that not everyone in the meeting may be using the same conferencing system. If that happens to be the case, avoid the embarrassment of connectivity issues by testing how the systems work together before the meeting begins.

Stay Focused

While this might sound obvious, it can be harder than many think for everyone in a virtual meeting to stay focused. Attendees can log in from anywhere, which can lead to crying babies or barking dogs becoming a major distraction.

To avoid these interruptions, hit the mute button on participants ends until Q&A is necessary or have them communicate via the chat box. Keeping your meeting segments shorter than 30 minutes and sticking with one or two topics will also help to keep everyone engaged.

Proper Etiquette

It can be easy to forget that you are essentially face to face with attendees, and vice versa. Treat the video conference in the same manner you would a face to face meeting with these few exceptions.

How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting: eAskme
  •     Talk slower. There will be a couple seconds of delay in-between when you speak and when participants hear you.

  •     Pause often. This allows anyone to ask needed questions about what you have just said.

  •     Make eye contact by looking at the camera.

  •     Keep your body movements to a minimum. They can be very distracting as they do not translate as well on camera.

  •     Instruct your participants on how to ask a question. Best practices are raising their hand on camera or simply saying "Question!"

Engage Your Participants

In order to keep things running as smooth as possible, it might seem like a good idea to jump right into the topic of the meeting. This is actually counterproductive, taking away from the relationship building aspect of a business and its employees.

Instead, start the meeting off with an icebreaker such as having participants introduce themselves or opening with a quick Q&A on the topic. It is also important to ask specific questions to specific members if you want to avoid hearing crickets in the background