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«« Newsletter Archives September-October 2016
How to Prepare For A Successful Virtual Meeting

Virtual meetings have become very popular. Though they are less effective than actual face-to-face interactions, there is still much you can do to maximize the technology so that everyone feels included and communication flows smoothly. This will be the first of a short series of newsletters on virtual conferencing – this month, we’ll focus on preparation, which is even more important for a virtual meeting than for an in-person one.

The first thing to consider is what type of virtual meeting you will be hosting – audio only, audio with screen-sharing, or video-conferencing, with all or most participants using a webcam. Most platforms allow some kind of video channel. If you have a choice, you’ll usually want to opt for the video channel, since any kind of video will help keep participants focused and engaged. Those who are not near a computer can still phone into the meeting, and most platforms will work on a smartphone.

The best platform for your meeting depends on the kind of meeting you are hosting. For instance, is it a single presenter with occasional questions from a large audience, or a small group brainstorming session? The former would call for screen sharing by the presenter, and a chat box for questions. The latter would work best a true video-conference, with all participants using webcams.
Next, familiarize yourself with the technology of the platform you will be using.

Here are some considerations:

  • Find or create written instructions for participants about how to sign in to the conference
    • Do they need to download software first?
    • How can they test their setup prior to the meeting?
    • What are the options for those who can only connect by phone?
    • How can participants mute themselves once they are signed in?
  • Determine if the platform offers a chat option. You can use it to solicit questions that don’t interrupt the speaker, and also to share links and resources.
  • If a polling option is offered, make sure you know how to use it. Polls help a lot with audience engagement and participation. Think of some polling questions you might ask ahead of time
  • Make sure you understand the organizer/moderator controls, particularly how to mute everyone if needed.

The next steps in your preparation involve getting the necessary information out to your participants.

  • Send an agenda with a schedule and a short, descriptive title
  • Prepare any informational materials you would like the participants to read prior to the program and send them at least a week in advance.
  • Send an email that includes a link to the event, as well as clear instructions on using the technology
  • Send reminder emails with the link and instructions one day before and one hour before the meeting is scheduled to start (this can usually be automated)

Finally, set up on your end at least ½ hour in advance of the program. You may find it helpful to have two computers – one with the organizer controls, the other that shows what the participants are seeing.

In the next issue, we’ll look at how to run an online meeting to get maximum involvement and interest from the participants. Meanwhile, if you and your team frequently work virtually, we offer a full-day program on how to run successful virtual meetings. Contact us if you’d like more information!

Present with Confidence: Business communication is about conveying information to your listener and inspiring them to take action. Call us now to find out how we can help your people hone and polish their communication skills and project the confidence and credibility that bring results.

Confidence, credibility and personal style are essential components in connecting with a listener.Successful people learn by doing and seeing themselves as others see them. This course utilizes a highly participatory format which accelerates learning while at the same time creates a fun and supportive environment for the participants. Our next open-enrollment program will be held on September 27-28, 2016 in Oakbrook, IL. To read more about the program, click here. For more information, contact us