7 Strategies For A Successful Virtual Meeting
Virtual conferencing sessions should be engaging, productive, and collaborative.
In today’s fast-paced world, more people are working from home. As a result, virtual meetings are now a crucial part of our work lives. Have you ever been in a virtual meeting with frozen webcams, technical difficulties, or constant disruption?
With these 7 strategies, you can avoid technical issues and create highly effective, impactful experiences for clients:
- Test the technology. Technology mishaps are both frustrating and a waste of valuable time. Many virtual meeting platforms have connection tests. Take advantage of them! Ensure everything is prepared from a technological standpoint prior to your meeting. Use a good microphone, host from a laptop (not a phone), and ensure you understand how to use the virtual meeting platform.Send out “How To Connect To The Session” documentation ahead of time to familiarize clients with the virtual application being used. Make “can you hear me now?” a thing of the past!
- Use webcams wisely. Webcams create a personal face-to-face connection. Yet they also distract participants, contribute to meeting fatigue, and consume internet bandwidth. How can you use your webcams wisely?
- Don’t leave webcams on the entire session
- Use webcams during short, defined periods: Introductions, Q&A, etc.
- Look at the camera, not a screen when speaking (create good lighting so they can see you)
- Let clients know it’s OK to turn off webcams for most of the meeting.
- Dress the part, look sharp
- Designate an Assistant or “Producer.” A producer facilitates, coordinates, and troubleshoots all technical components of the meeting. Knowing how to troubleshoot connection issues is important: an increased number of people attending from home will increase unique platform connections. Getting all attendees online, heard, and seen can be challenging. Assign a producer to tackle these challenges. To maximize productivity, assign a producer to meetings that are four hours or longer.A successful producer will:
- Help clients use the meeting application (WebEx, Zoom, MS Teams, etc.).
- Troubleshoot client connection issues, without disrupting the session
- Create a smooth meeting environment: making sure everyone is muted unless speaking and managing platform tools (polls, chat, whiteboard, etc.).
- Ask for consent to record. Recording the virtual meeting is valuable collateral to share with clients. Example: Knowledge Transfer sessions; recording a knowledge transfer session is vital both to ensure information can be recalled without requiring typed notes, and to share the info with stakeholders that didn’t attend but will need to know and/or understand. Asking the client if it’s OK to record the session will provide consent and shows the client that this session is critical to their success.A few other items to consider when recording:
- For global participants: Check country-specific laws and regulations
- Notify participants who join late that the session is being recorded
- Check with your internal organization’s rules on recording virtual meetings
- Leverage platform tools. Virtual meeting platforms are designed to make virtual meetings more engaging in the absence of in-person connection. Use whiteboards, chats, markup, and screen sharing to encourage audience participation.Need to increase engagement? Use the client’s preferred meeting application to ensure the client is comfortable and focused. Try creating a poll to gauge the audience and understand their preferred platform toolset.
- Check in often. It’s easy for clients to lose focus during virtual sessions, especially during longer sessions. Don’t forget, many clients are working from home where distractions (kids, outside noises, pets) happen. When presenting: avoid multitasking, be present, and focus on what is being said. Stop every 20-30 minutes for a brief check-in. Use questions, short breaks, etc., to check for understanding.Ask open-ended questions to better test comprehensiveness. For example: “What are some takeaways from this topic?”
- Make impactful and lasting connections. After a long project or a busy week of meetings, create a virtual happy hour to celebrate a milestone or show appreciation by recognizing internal and external team members. Sending a virtual thank you card, a LinkedIn shoutout, or a small gesture in a follow-up e-mail can help a client feel appreciated and connected. Start virtual meetings with entertaining icebreakers, such as a trivia game. Let virtual meetings lead to impactful professional relationships while sprinkling in some fun!
As someone who hosts virtual client meetings regularly, I live by these strategies. Running virtual meetings without any noticeable hiccups leads to a meeting that is professional, memorable, and personable. After all, the virtual meetings you host represent the company you work for and become part of your personal brand. Why not make it a strong and confident presence?