Over the past few months we all have been conducting our meetings and conferences online. The digital platform has become an integral part of businesses today and why not? It enabled them to run their business even at such challenging times of COVID-19.
While working remotely is becoming more & more preferential, many of us still haven’t thought of taking their meeting or conference over a digital space. The reason being, major confusion regarding how to seamlessly run meetings with their company employees. If you consider yourself in this category, this article will completely change your perspective and lean you towards running effective online meetings in 2021.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL MEETING?
Virtual meetings is a meeting conducted in a visually rich space over a web-based solution. All the important members of the organisation- employees, staff, directors come together at one platform to share and discuss about their goals and targets.
A virtual meeting enables individuals to have a real-time conversation by using effective tools like audio/video/text and application sharing. Virtual meetings have grown in importance and have encouraged connection and problem-solvings. The platform also provides curative ways to engage attendees and enhance their overall experience.
BENEFITS OF HOSTING A VIRTUAL MEETING?
Here are a few advantages of running your meeting virtually.
Virtual events have greatly benefited the environment and made the world a better place to live. Consider the various factors that in-person meetings carry with them- the carbon footprint generated by traveling to and from the venue, Leftover food and empty cups all over the venue & catered lunch, venue lights and screen powering the meeting room. All these factors can be removed by shifting your event to a digital setting in a eco-friendly environment.
Switching some of your in-person meetings to virtual platforms can save you money, in addition to having a green thumb. Saving money on travel and catering will add up with time, so it might be worthwhile to try virtualizing any of your in-person meetings.
3. Build Connections Across the Globe
Virtual meeting is a perfect way to connect with individuals from any corner of the world. Virtual meetings enable any host to conduct an engaging, effective event and also helps in developing relationships with people which otherwise may not have been possible in-person.
5. Ability to Pivot Quickly
Eventually, as we’ve learned over the last few weeks, life will give us those surprising curveballs. Digital sessions, rather than in-person meetings, have helped companies all over the world retain competitiveness and a semblance of normal life during these tough times.
HOW TO RUN EFFECTIVE VIRTUAL MEETINGS
After knowing about the benefits, it’s time to host your virtual meeting. Here are a few best practices for running an engaging and effective virtual meeting.
1. Virtual Meeting Convention
We’ve also seen conference call skits on comedy shows: several people disrupting each other at the same time, pets shouting in the background, and people eating incredibly loud and crunchy food. Although it’s interesting to watch, it’s not that much fun to go around. Fortunately, you will prevent these mishaps by applying simulated conference protocol.
2. Determine How Attendees can Pose Questions During the Conference
Do you have a moderator who will answer participants’ questions by email? If attendees wish to ask a question, will they have to lift their hands? To prevent interruptions in speech, decide this ahead of time.
3. Allow time for Usual “face-to-face” Interaction
We all miss getting the extra time to talk, particularly during periods of social disconnection. Be sure to allow time at the start or end of your simulated meeting to speak with your members. Taking a moment to naturally involve others helps them feel more at ease, which also contributes to improved productivity.
4. Keeping Attendees Engaged
Spending time at a desktop for a very long time is just as intriguing as waiting for water to boil, as we all know. It can be tough to maintain your guests engaged during a lengthy virtual meeting because of this. There are, nevertheless, a few approaches to ensure that the meeting members are fully participating in the meeting.
- Moderate the Meeting
Call the participants randomly throughout the meeting to keep their attention intact in the meeting. Encourage those participants who are too quiet or distracted on their phone to participate in the meeting and get their voice heard.
- Mobile Event Apps
In case of large internal meetings, a mobile app may keep the attendees engaged. Since people are mostly on their phone, we may leverage this habit and use it to keep them engaged. Polls and/or surveys are a great way to increase interaction with the attendees during meetings, Q&A’s also provide significant interaction. The key thing is to avoid hosting predictable meetings, including various interacting features to encourage more participation.
5. Ensure Tasks for Virtual Attendees
If the attendees are not engaged with the meeting, then it is safe to say that the meeting accomplished nothing. To make sure the attendees stick to the meetings, provide them with tasks based on the format of the meeting. Giving certain roles to selective attendees, such as a note-taker, will also enhance participation. Set some guidelines for your meeting that’ll help you to reference thoughts and ideas easily. You may also summarise the entire meeting in notes and send them out after the meeting has concluded.
6. Post-Meeting Follow-Ups
A follow-up is as important as the meeting itself. A summary of what was covered in the meeting will not only help with analytics but also keeping a track of the meeting. Based on this information you may develop a clear action plan for future meetings. Let us look at some practices that will make your follow-ups more effective:
- Give the role of ‘note-taker’ to someone to keep track of what was covered in the meeting, of course everyone should be taking their own notes but having someone do it as a primary task is never a bad thing to have.
- Record the entire meeting if possible. This is especially helpful if someone must leave in an emergency or if a network problem exists at the receiving end. Recording the meeting will also allow us to go back and refer to a particular part/conversation in detail.
- The follow-up email can be sent in the original meeting invitation email thread to ensure that every attendee gets the follow up email with no exclusions. The follow-up emails should also include the names of individuals who are assigned tasks, you may use ‘Bold’ and/or ‘Italics’ to highlight the name of the individuals and the task.
OVER TO YOU
Virtual team meetings are essential for remote employees to interact with the organisation. Virtual meetings are more prone to be relatively less productive as the attendees may find online meetings to be a ‘waste of time’. To prevent this mindset, you may include engaging features based on the format of your event to encourage participation and interaction. Proper planning, preparation and technology will make your meetings effective and engaging.