Guidelines for virtual meetings

Remember the pre-pandemic days when you spent most of your time attending meeting after meeting after meeting?

How often did you complain those meetings were a waste of time or kept you from getting any work done?

Well, meetings have not gone away. There may be fewer of them, but they’ve suddenly became much more of a challenge because they are virtual.

If you manage one of these virtual meetings you have to deal with the technology, the content, and you have to find a new way of engaging people and ensuring they maintain focus.

Joe Sherren of Ethos Enterprises Inc., is an international speaker and trainer specializing in business sales, leadership, strategic planning and team building. 

He recently published Guidelines for Online Gatherings. Joe, a fellow member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, graciously allowed me to summarize his article. Here are my top 5 from the 15 tips Joe offers:

  1. Send out an agenda ahead of time. This will keep people focused.
  2. Mingle at the beginning of the video call and during the breaks just like you would if you were all in the same room. Have conversations with people as they come online.
  3. Start strong. Welcome everyone and do a team building activity.
  4. Create ground rules. Get people to mute their microphones when not speaking. Let them know how they can participate.
  5. Stimulate conversation. Most people are not comfortable with technology so you have to initiate and control the discussion, especially in the early stages. Encourage people to use the chatbox feature by posting quick questions for participants to answer.

And I would add one more thing – send out a short message ahead of the meeting on the basics of using video conferencing technology. You don’t want the more tech-savvy folks getting frustrated while others are asking how to mute their microphones or use the chat feature.