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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Gredeson

How to Run a Successful Virtual Meeting

Once you’ve made sure to set up a virtual meeting successfully, you should be ready to actually run it. Some elements are the same as any meeting, while others should be tailored to the online environment.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

The best way to run a virtual meeting successfully is to simply use the rules for regular meetings and adapt them to a virtual space. Be organised, give people a plan and stay on point. You don’t have to create everything from scratch. Really, you just have to get used to sharing a screen and not making real eye contact. So don’t create new structures for meetings if it isn't necessary.

As with in-person meetings, don’t have the same person presenting all the time. Consider ways that different people can run different parts of the meeting related to their expertise. This will help make participants more interested in the topic and hopefully will give them more things to discuss.

Creating Etiquette for online Meetings

For most organisations, there exists a certain protocol for meetings and decision making. This has to apply to virtual meetings as well. Establishing etiquette for these is an effective way to make sure they run smoothly and efficiently.

One of the best ways to ensure that a virtual meeting runs smoothly is to establish guidelines for it in advance. Set down a clear etiquette for the call before it happens. Some matters are obvious like putting mobile phones on mute, or not checking emails. Some other points depend on the organisation, such as dress code or turn taking. Other points to remind people are less obvious. This includes reminding them to check their familiarity with the technology and asking them to find a quiet area to work in that is free from any unnecessary distractions. Being reminded of these kinds of guidelines can also help people remember to stay on the topic at hand.

At the same time, it’s also useful to use a facilitator. Having someone to guide the meeting can ensure that it stays on track and on topic. In addition, the mediator’s role can change depending on the needs of organisation.

Using the Tools of a Virtual Meeting to Your Advantage

Meetings online can often be more effective than those in person. They can bring people together regardless of geography as well as make sure that participants are all on the same page. Moreover, holding a meeting in a virtual space comes with several advantages that simply don’t exist for face-to-face interactions. These come in the form of tools that simply aren’t available during a tradition style gathering.

One of the most useful elements of a virtual meeting are poll-services like Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere. You can use these to take polls of the participants’ ideas and thoughts in real time without disrupting the overall flow of the meeting.

Likewise you could also consider recording a virtual meeting. This is useful since any one who missed the meeting can still catch up and exact points won’t be lost. Of course, if you want to record the meeting, it’s important to check with everyone if it is ok to record.

You can also supplement a virtual meeting with additional online groups, chats and platforms. If a topic doesn’t need to be discussed by all participants, then you can redirect all conversation to other platforms so that the right people can continue them later on.

Meeting Remotely Doesn’t Mean Having an Impersonal Meeting

People always prefer to feel as though they are participants rather than spectators. That’s true no matter what kind of meeting you’re planning to hold. Feel free to start your meeting with some chit-chat. Sometimes, this can be difficult online but it’s always a good way to make people feel more at ease and more included. In the same vein, you should introduce everyone during the meeting. As different topics come up, give everyone a chance to contribute to help make them feel like part of the team.

Since more virtual meetings include video, don’t forget that you can still use your body language throughout. It may seem counterintuitive, since video calls are not as personal as meetings in person, but actively thinking about your body language can pay off. Wave, point, laugh and ask direct questions to specific people in order to make people feel like participants and that they are really interacting with the person speaking.

Success takes Practice

One of the most important things to understand about a virtual meeting is that not everything is going to go perfectly the first time around. For these arrangements, only experience and feedback can improve the meeting. With that in mind, you should check with the team what they liked and what the thought could be improved from the meeting.

Do you need any further ideas about how to make your online meetings more productive or to make them more informative? Here at plankton, we have run hundreds of hundreds of meetings and could work together with you to make your online work more effective.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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