Virtual meetings and webinars are becoming more and more popular. And this trend is especially so with the many businesses forgoing in-person meetings and realizing that they can reduce travel costs and save time by hosting an online meeting.
But while virtual meetings have many benefits, they also come with their own unique set of challenges.
Leaders need to make sure the meeting is well-organized to foster and encourage participation. And attendees should come prepared with any materials that will help them to participate fully.
This blog post will walk you through our top 10 tips in hosting an effective virtual meeting both for leaders and attendees alike.
Let’s dive right in.
10 Tips in Hosting a Successful Virtual Meeting
1. Find a tool that works for you
There are many video conferencing solutions to select from these days, due to the rise of internet video conferencing. However, these tools might not be right for every virtual meeting. Some meetings require video, while others do not need it at all.
Find the most appropriate tool or media that works for your specific situation. This step ensures that everyone will be able to use the tool and contribute their ideas effectively.
For example, don’t create a calendar invite for a Zoom meeting, when a WhatsApp video call might do.
Some notable virtual meeting tools you can opt for include:
Is an unknown video conferencing option that provides audio and video and the ability to have up to 100 participants in a single virtual meeting.
Zoom This is the go-to virtual meeting software for many people, as it offers a video chat with up to 25 participants. It also offers screen sharing, so you can show your team members important information. It also includes a mobile app so that you can take it with you on the go.
This is another virtual meeting software with screen-sharing capabilities for groups of all sizes. The service also allows the recording of meetings so you can share them on your website or social media.
Google Hangouts is an easy and free video conferencing option that allows you to host a successful virtual meeting with up to 25 people.
Microsoft Teams stands out for allowing you to hold meetings with up to 1,000 attendees. You can also share your entire desktop during a virtual meeting, online whiteboards, or a specific app, plus a few other things.
Blue Jeans is another popular video conferencing tool that lets users interact through their screens and slides and share ideas in real-time.
It also allows users to connect from any device they prefer and even includes an option for an informal chat room.
2. Test the Tech In Advance
We don’t mean to jinx you, but, technical issues will arise. It’s inevitable. So it is important that you test out your technology ahead of time to avoid surprises before or during the virtual meeting.
You should check if all devices have access to the internet, the software works properly, etc.
You do not want to be the only person struggling to connect because your phone is not updated or a team member can’t see you on video. Ensure that all of the necessary pieces are set up and ready to go.
3. Use video, if it works for you
Video calls allow for more natural communication between team members to see each other’s facial expressions and body language.
This will help them understand what is being said better than just audio or text alone would be able to.
However, the downside to video is that it can be a challenge for some people who are not used to communicating via this medium. And online meetings can be awkward.
Suppose you have members on your team who struggle with speaking in front of others or would feel more comfortable participating through text-based communication.
In that case, a video might not work well for them and should therefore be avoided.
Video conferencing tools allow participants from different locations to appear as if they are all in the same room together. This works best with virtual meetings that need visual content like presentations and demos etc.
4. Acknowledge every virtual attendee
Virtual meetings are more inclusive when the leader acknowledges everyone who is trying to contribute. This includes those speaking out loud and people typing in their thoughts and ideas through text chat or drawing on a shared workspace.
The leader should make sure they do this for each person individually, even if multiple people speak at once.
Acknowledging everyone’s participation shows that you are listening to the team and considering their ideas.
It’s also a good way of keeping everyone on track with what needs to be discussed and keeping meetings running smoothly without unnecessary breaks where people might lose focus.
5. Share the mic
When multiple people are all talking over one another, it can be difficult for participants to follow along or contribute their ideas in a meaningful way.
This is why you should share the conversation by alternating who speaks next each time someone begins to talk. There will still be times when several team members speak at once, but you should ensure that each person is given their turn to talk.
Sharing the mic also helps keep the virtual meeting on track so that it does not veer off into unproductive conversations or get interrupted by others who want to share their ideas.
6. No multitasking
It’s hard for virtual participants to pay attention when they are doing other things simultaneously. This can include talking with coworkers in another room during your meetings or checking their emails.
It would help if you asked your team members to put away all other distractions to focus on the topic at hand.
Multitasking during meetings can be perceived as rude and shows that you are not prioritizing work communication, which may impact how others view your leadership.
If you need to call or check your phone, it’s best to excuse yourself from the virtual meeting and come back when you can listen without distractions.
7. Keep It Engaging And Interactive
Virtual team building meetings should not be boring. Getting people engaged in the conversation is important for keeping their attention.
This means playing your part in leading the discussion rather then just sitting back listening while everyone else talks about work-related topics without any input from you.
Consider using collaborative apps like Slack or Google Docs to share content with your team members to make virtual meetings more interactive.
These are also good for sharing information in real time. This action helps keep things moving along more efficiently and prevents some viewers from losing focus.
There are many ways in which a leader can keep their team engaged, such as:
- Asking open-ended or ice breaker questions that require more than just yes or no answers.
- Encouraging participation through web polling and voting or other interactive activities like brainstorming sessions.
- Incorporating a team building game like Bingo, or trivia.
8. Keep them short & sweet and stick to the meeting agenda
Effective virtual meetings last around 30-45 minutes. This period gives people enough time to share their thoughts, but not too long that it starts losing everyone’s attention, and they begin wanting to multitask or disengage from the conversation.
If you find yourself with a team member who always wants to go on forever, then you can ask them to send their thoughts in advance so that everyone else has time to prepare.
By keeping your virtual meeting short, you also help keep your team focused and on track.
You can then schedule a separate virtual meeting if the conversation must continue for longer than 45 minutes to discuss further details or plan out more of what needs to be done.
9. Have A Q & A Session
A Q & A at the end of a virtual meeting is a great way to get feedback from everyone and ensure that they have been heard.
It also allows you to answer any questions your team members may have so that they can leave feeling more confident about what was discussed if necessary.
Asking the audience if they have any questions at the end of presentations can help ensure that everyone can follow along with what you are trying to convey.
If there are no questions, it might be a sign that something does need further explanation, to prevent confusion.
10. Face to face meeting follow-up
Virtual meetings are great for keeping communication open and allowing people to stay connected, but you should follow up with your team for some face-to-face meeting time afterward.
This can be done through short one on one sessions where an individual employee has the chance to ask any questions that they may have.
Remember, face-to-face meetings and follow-ups are just as important as the original virtual meeting.
Make a point of following up on everything, both online and in person. As a moderator, you should also ensure that everyone has received the necessary information and is aware of any next steps.
7 Bonus Quick Fire Tips For Your Next Virtual Meeting
- Send out a meeting agenda, your participants will be thankful for receiving one.
- Virtual meeting etiquette calls for the organizer to “show up” at least 10 minutes before the scheduled meeting. If there are tech issues, you’ll be able to advise participants ahead of time.
- For larger meetings, consider dividing up the group into smaller breakout rooms.
- Depending on the subject matter, or the reason for the virtual meeting, it may be appropriate to set some ground rules like, keep microphones on mute.
- Virtual meetings work best when there is one person leading the charge. Not to say that having a co host doesn’t have its perks but when one person is speaking it’s easier to listen.
- Before the meeting begins, engage quieter members with ice breaker questions and games. Not only do team building games get the creative juices flowing, but they also improve engagement.
- We’ve all seen the meme or photo of the guy on a virtual meeting dress in a suit from the waist up only. Don’t be that guy – dress appropriately. There is such thing as virtual meeting etiquette and it asks politely that you wear pants to your next online meeting.
While a virtual meeting will never replace an in-person meeting, there are many benefits to hosting one instead.
When organizing an effective virtual meeting, remember that all the same rules apply to virtual meetings, as they do to face-to-face meetings.
Body language, dressing for success, should not be lost or thrown aside just because many of us are working from home.
The digital age offers many opportunities for advancement and has made remote meetings and remote work a reality for many.
Virtual meetings make it easier than ever before to communicate and collaborate online. However, you must keep these best practices in mind when leading your next virtual meeting.
Effective virtual meetings are more beneficial than any other type of conference call or video chat, so it’s important to learn how they work to take full advantage.
How many virtual meetings have you attended lately? Have you lost count? We think we have 😊