With a rise in meetings becoming virtual we got together to provide our personal checklist when it comes to virtual meetings. Hopefully, you will find this useful.
Firstly when we conduct business we are ultimately looking for a human emotional connection and this is why face to face meetings work so well and hence why we need to recreate this online. Research says that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken (Mehrabian & Wiener, 1967 and Mehrabian & Ferris, 1967).
- The calendar invite - Make it as easy as possible to join the virtual meeting. In the location write 'Online meeting details below' and then clearly state what the participant needs to do to login, including any links to join, dial-in numbers and access codes. You can't communicate this enough, so it is a good idea to put this info in an email too. The invite is also a place for your agenda ( see below) and who is attending.
- The backup option - Be mindful that some organisations might block the online software. We use GoToMeeting and Zoom (other services are available) however if anything fails we often have a JoinMe link at the ready. This is a free service. The final backup is, a pdf of the presentation, which can be sent out and a list of everyone's numbers, in case you need to call them.
- The agenda - An agenda for an online meeting is critical. It limits people not attending as they read your invite wondering what they agreed too and also helps you guide the participants through the objectives and stay engaged. If you have multiple people joining, state who they are in the invite.
- The scene and background - One really cool aspect of Zoom is the ability to change your background to any desired image. Working from home, on a train or in a public space can be unpredictable so this lets you sit on your beach residence whilst taking the call! When we attend meetings, It is important to make an emotional connection, so think about how your background can start a conversation. Maybe your latest achievement carefully placed or a specific view...
- Communicating as the host - First and foremost if you are remote from colleagues, have a line of communication open. We use Slack or Whatsapp (other services available) for this and it helps prompt each other during the conversation. As the host you also must do a round of introductions. We recently had a meeting with 15 people, all in different locations and whilst the introductions took a while it helped us understand what to focus on and what to follow-up with.
- Preparation and notes - On advantage to online meetings is you can set up a 'command and control' centre around your desk and no one will know! When you start the meeting make sure you are sharing the correct screen with your audience. In addition, if you are delivering the call, ask a colleague (if joining) to be taking the notes.
- Webcams and checking in - We all hate the sound of someone tapping away on their keyboard as we present. Using webcams is a really good way to minimise this happening. Making people aware that you propose using a Webcam in the invitation will make people more comfortable ahead of time too. Asking questions and referring to their business (do your preparation first "I see you have done something similar with XYZ") will keep it relevant and the audience engaged.
- The water-cooler - If employees working becomes more remote a risk is the lack of human connection leads to less productivity. Zoom have a brilliant function with a 24/7 running online meeting (obviously you can do this with any online function) which allows employees to check-in. These are the interactions we miss when not in the office.
Hopefully, these are useful tips! The image below is both of us discussing this post from our respective office beach views.....