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Conduct The Best Virtual Meeting
Successful virtual meetings deliver great benefits for your business, like saving time, money, and space. Travel time is diminished, and the budget for travel and lodging can be applied elsewhere. Also, you eliminate the need to house your guests in your conference room, or worry about renting a large venue to accommodate the size of the meeting.
Virtual meetings can also create new opportunities for your business. Since you can virtually invite anyone to participate, you are able to build networks and relationships with partners that you may not have been able to reach in the past.
While they can be a great asset to different companies and industries, conducting a smooth virtual conference takes great care and thought. Here’s how to deliver the best virtual meeting:
Plan Your Agenda
To keep things timely and orderly, it is pertinent that your meeting is carefully planned. There should be enough copies of the final agenda for each participant so that they can prepare for the meeting as well. To keep everyone’s attention, try breaking up the content into short chunks with detailed mini-agendas for each segment. To keep participants engaged, you may want to open the virtual floor to questions and discussion between segments.
Make Effective Use Of Technology
Make sure everyone “meets” at the right time and place with the proper documents. Prior to the meeting, send out a comprehensive email with all the necessary paperwork (ex. agendas, instructions) and any additional information that the participants should know. You should also ensure that your internet connect is stable. If possible, use a wired connection for better reliability and speed.
If you are using additional tools (ex. a slide-sharing program, supplemental software), be sure to practice before the big day. You should be comfortable with all the software and tools you will be using during the meeting. If any issues arise, you will be better equipped to navigate through these, reducing the likelihood of any embarrassing moments during the meeting.
Get your participants engaged beforehand. Rather than having your guests simply show up, not give their full attention and rush out, when you send out agendas, seek questions that they would like to be answered during the meeting. Or you may ask them to prepare a set of questions or a statement to be read, answered, or discussed at the event. By asking for meaningful contributions, you will likely get more genuine interest, participation, and engagement.
Keep Them Focused
Simply providing breaks isn’t going to keep your audience focused. It may help, but you should also have a few tricks up your sleeve. Try to inject some kind of interactive activity every so often (10-15 min). As mentioned, opening the floor for discussion or Q & A can help, or you can get creative with fun activities.
Create A Safe Environment
As with any type of large discussion, meeting, or conference, your guests should feel comfortable discussing issues with you and each other. Creating a safe and trusting environment will promote collaboration and enable a more honest, productive discussion. If you are creating an ongoing virtual team that will meet and communicate regularly, you may want to build morale within the team. Setting up small group activities for your virtual team will help build their relationships and trust.