Engaging Your Employees and Clients During Virtual MeetingsOctober 4, 2021 8:01 am
Like it or not, virtual meetings are here to stay. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how to connect from different locations. Virtual meetings, like in-person meetings, are meant to accomplish specific tasks such as kickstarting projects, update ongoing projects, and keep everyone in the loop.
Many employees like the ease of virtual meetings while others find them lacking personality and human connection. As a business leader, you may want to carefully plan your next virtual meeting to make it engaging and productive.
Here are a few tips of things to consider as we enter our second full year utilizing online meetings.
Determine Your Best Platform
By now, most of us have a favorite platform for virtual meetings. Each offers similar features like screen sharing, live video chat, and meeting recordings, but we can’t help but favor one over the others for their ease of use and ability to accommodate large numbers of attendees.
WebEx, Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams are among the top online meeting platforms. Since many businesses already have their favorites here is a very brief overview of the top four platforms and links to their sites.
Zoom tends to be the most popular platform currently as they provide a basic offering that is free to users. Unfortunately, there are limits to the duration and the number of users unless you upgrade to the pro version.
Cisco WebEx Meetings are a part of a suite designed to facilitate easy collaboration and communication for small-large businesses, offering integrated audio, video and content sharing.
Microsoft Teams seems to become one of the most popular platforms for use in commercial enterprises, especially those companies who already use Microsoft software.
Google Meet is also a favorite, in that it is easy to navigate for businesses who use Google Suite and Google products. This platform however caps at 250 people and 24 hours.
Test The Technology
Before any staff meeting the technology should be tested. This means testing the link to the meeting and checking that all scheduled attendees have been sent a reminder and link to access the meeting.
If you are a veteran to this process you will merely need to confirm the link and scheduled time. For novices, you may want to hop on a “practice” call to try out the tools like muting, screen sharing, slideshows, and private chats.
Set the Agenda
Just like an in-person meeting, virtual meetings need an agenda in order to stay on course. Since no one likes to feel like their time is being wasted in a meeting, it’s a good idea to not only set an agenda but to share it with participants in advance. This allows attendees to prepare for the meeting and bring their A game.
When you send the agenda to your team, be sure to also include your meeting rules. For instance, if your meeting is more of a training you may want to set guidelines about when a good time to ask questions may be or if there will be a recording of the event that can be viewed after for reference.
Most businesses have developed a method to keep the crosstalk to a minimum during meetings that are virtual, but you may want to remind others to “raise hands” if the platform allows or wait until a co-worker is done speaking.
Set the Tone
Virtual Meetings have a tendency to feel a little cold and detached. Avert this feeling by setting the tone at the start of your meetings. Maybe allow for some time for small talk or catching up that would normally happen in the office. If team members are meeting for the first time, it may be helpful to allow time for each person to introduce themselves. These methods allow a very digitized meeting to feel more human.
Setting the tone for your meetings also means giving participants a chance to contribute, ask questions, or look for clarifications.
Once the agenda has been completed and each participant has a chance to comment or ask for input, you will want to create action items from what you discussed. These action items will be the center for discussion at the next virtual meetings.
Even the best meetings need follow up after the event to ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities and action items. As a business leader, you may need to touch base with key members of your team in between meetings to confirm that the project is headed in the right direction or moving along in a productive manner.