I was speaking to a friend yesterday, who runs her own business, and she decided that it was best to move a face to face event scheduled for her team today, to an online one.
So, she signed up to a virtual meeting technology service and is going to be leading her first ever virtual meeting today! I’m excited for her as she takes a leap to try something new and shows courage to learn in the moment!
At Soji we have run webinars and virtual learning events for the last ten years, I thought it might be useful if I could share some tips for anyone new to this format.
Hope this is useful for you, my friend, and anyone else in the same situation!
Tips for running Virtual Meetings
Get support – If you can, have someone provide technical support so that participants have someone to help if they have problems. This will allow you to focus on hosting the meeting.
Test the technology – Allow time for you and your participants to do some technical testing. As the host, test your video and audio well before the meeting start time and if appropriate ask participants to log in 15 minutes early, so they can test their technology. If that isn’t possible, understand that the first part of the meeting will be taken up with people joining and working out the system.
Use your video – Think about where you will be, find somewhere quiet and consider what will be showing in your background. Do use your video, it is an easy way to engage people.
Be clear on purpose and desired outcomes – Just like in any situation it helps to have a clear focus. In virtual meetings content needs to be sharp and chunked up into segments so everyone stays engaged. A little bit of design will go a long way to make sure you and your participants get what you need. We break our sixty-minute learning sessions into seven or fifteen-minute sections and design some participant engagement into each. Knowing your intention, how you want to show up and what you want people to take away, do differently or learn will inform what you do with your time.
Be calm and continue on – There may be technology issues (the system may have a moment, people may have internet or audio challenges or lack of experience with technology), anything is possible. If you have a challenge, try to look calm and continue on. Be kind to yourself and know that if you can be a safe pair of hands and support people as they move to this new format, that is brilliant!
Think about engagement – Without the benefit of being in together in a room, engagement is something you need to design for. We recommend using the tools available in the technology to create engagement. We use chat, polls, simple, beautiful PowerPoints and share information in different ways (videos or downloadable resources). If you can mix things up, have a couple of people share the role of host or invite participants to speak on panels.
Technology can be your friend – Have a plan for managing audio during the session, we keep our participants on mute unless we are speaking to them, to minimise background noise. If your technology enables it, record the session so you can share it with others who aren’t able to attend.
Review to improve – We are always looking to learn and improve the way we do things, so we always run a little review process after each webinar. We share what we liked, what we wished and what we wonder about the experience and to generate specific feedback and ideas to take forward to improve for next time.
Enjoy the challenge – Face this challenge with an attitude of curiosity. If you can bring an optimistic perspective and learn as you go, you might just enjoy the challenge.
Share any other tips you have for virtual meetings, here for others to see! Soji’s values of courage, curiosity and compassion will support us as we navigate this new world with clients working from home and moving learning online!
If you need any support moving face to face content to a virtual format, let us know. We are working up a Virtual Teams Toolkit for individual contributors and leaders, stay tuned for more information…..
Emma Siegertsz | Soji Learning and Change | +61 401 783 314 | firstname.lastname@example.org