Has the health crisis causing you to start meeting virtually? No problem – this is an example of a crisis that generates an opportunity. Shifting from in-person to virtual meetings is a good opportunity to improve your meeting structure and people’s engagement. It will force you to keep your agenda focused and to-the-point, in a way that you’ll benefit from when you return to your in-person meetings!
To begin with: Consider holding a strategy meeting (virtually) with your leadership or your team to discuss how to handle this unexpected situation. How can you best support staff? How can you support and stay in touch with customers or clients?
Also: Hold a training for employees who may need to facilitate a virtual meeting with customers or clients.
Here are 7 valuable tips to shift to virtual meetings and to keep you on track during this challenging time.
- Video-conference, not phone. I’m sure you realize that seeing people is more effective than a phone call. We all feel more obliged to pay attention and not surf the Internet when others can see you 😉
- Use video-conferencing software like Zoom, which allows you to see each other, and to share your screen. You can share a document or slides, which everyone can see; you can edit the document so that everyone can see and weigh in on the edits.
- Prepare for the meeting by asking for input in advance. Create a Googledoc and ask people to respond to the questions in advance of the meeting. This is a best practice for any meeting, in-person or virtual.
- Use a Googledoc and give edit rights to everyone. This will let all the participants type in their comments, which will keep them engaged. This feature is an added benefit over in-person meetings, where the conversation is sequential, and you have to wait for someone to finish speaking before you can contribute. Having people type in their comments at the same time really keeps them/us engaged.
- Invite people to type in their comments. Pose a question and ask people to write their responses in the chat box. For example, What do our customers or our clients need from us during this transition? Or, how can we best support our customers in this season (or moment)?
- Use a poll (on Zoom or another platform) and ask people to weigh in. For example, How can we get input from our clients or customers about our services for our strategic planning process?
- Use breakout groups. If you have more than 10 people, break up into 2-3 small groups to optimize participation. On Zoom you simply “create breakouts” and define how many groups you want. Give people clear directions, i.e. In your small groups, I’d like you to brainstorm ideas for how to increase enrollment in our programs, or how to increase customer loyalty. You’ll have 10 minutes in small groups, and then we’ll do a large group report out.
- Your turn: Try out these features. Let me know how I can help you have the most productive virtual meetings.