27 Apr Virtual Meetings – 5 Tips for Success
With a whole new culture of people trying to navigate the world of virtual meetings, I can’t help but think of all the unfortunate (albeit funny for the rest of us) mishaps that are certain to happen. Mishaps like children or pets interrupting meetings or not turning off the camera to take a “break” are just a few examples. My youngest daughter had a virtual student-led conference to review how they are meeting goals they set for themselves in the fall. After a month of learning in a virtual classroom, she has found little shortcuts like wearing the top part of her uniform that can be seen by the camera and wearing pajama shorts on the bottom. She was having some technical difficulty and I was holding my breath, hoping she would NOT stand up!
The way we have been doing meetings all changed in March and we are all trying to adapt. After the initial shock of it actually happening, we have had time to regroup and consider the options. Meeting planners and conference organizers are a resourceful bunch. They are called to action when a wrench is thrown into the plans and they rise to the occasion. Now that the creative juices are flowing, we have seen a surge of topics relating to virtual meetings. Everything from how to maximize your appearance and background in a video meeting and how to market an online event to changing the structure of an online event to fit into our attendee’s new normal.
One thing is for sure, virtual meetings are here. We expect that even when we are free to meet, we will be doing it differently. YesEvents is now offering virtual meeting integration with Zoom. We have been attending tons of virtual meetings and spent hours upon hours on tutorials and testing. (I am kind of an expert now, so reach out if you need some handy tips!)
1. Welcome Attendees
Much like an in-person event, the Welcome is crucial. Play some music and be sure to welcome everyone as they enter the “online” room either with voice-over or by chat.
2. Properly Staff
You can’t do this alone. If you have breakout rooms, you need a host/administrator in each one. The host should welcome each guest as they enter. I would also suggest that there be a “troubleshooter” that can step up into the host role if they lose their connection. The troubleshooter would also address any technical issues with guests. If you can find an extra person, a note-taker would be a bonus!
3. Change Up the Presentation Styles
A single-voice presentation style can get boring. Mix it up! Add slides, video and chat to the presentation to hold their attention. Panels with Q&A work well with a “moderator” asking the presenter the questions. Keep in mind that this does not need to be over-produced. This is a time to be authentic. Have your presenters set up a nice space with good lighting. There is no need to build a studio-like environment.
4. Involve Your Attendees
Interactivity is key. There is nothing preventing your audience from leaving their device to go watch a movie the family room. Use polling to ask serious and not-so-serious questions. Cats vs. Dogs? Hotdogs vs. Hamburgers? You get the point.
Require your speakers to a pre-conference virtual meeting. This will allow you to train them on the features of the online platform. If they can’t make the meeting, record it and send to them to review at a later meeting. I can tell you it is frustrating to have the presenter fumbling to use basic tools.