Virtual meetings are different. There are no donuts, coffee, muffins, or juice to buy you time to figure out what you’re doing. Define your meeting objectives ahead of time, or your meeting will lose momentum before it even begins.
What type of meeting are you conducting?
You may wish to communicate something, gather data, strengthen you team, generate new ideas, make a group decision, or solve a problem. The type of meeting will tell you the level of interaction you’ll need to plan. The most common form of interaction is listening. But there are many other options to help you: question and answer sessions, live brainstorming, virtual whiteboarding, online polls, etc.
Plan to engage attendees.
It’s rare that monologues convince people of anything. You’re not Hamlet. Plan for discussions. Prepare questions that require more than one word yes/no answers. I’d even suggest testing the questions on friends or coworkers before your virtual meeting. A quick test run will let you know if the questions are clear enough for the live run.
Set time frames for each part of the virtual meeting.
Structure is best for virtual meetings. If you define how much time each part of the meeting will take, then you have a great excuse to move on if things get off topic or long-winded. You can always offer offline followup to attendees.
Limit the head count.
The amount of people that can attend the virtual meeting must support the type of meeting you are conducting. Virtual meetings don’t have physical limitations and the fire marshal won’t kick you out for overseating. But if you intend to do a lot of Q&A, large groups are difficult to keep happy. Some people will get several comments in, while others will keep trying but never get a word in.
Create a virtual meeting agenda.
With the type of meeting, amount of engagement, and audience size in mind, start blocking off your activities into an agenda. The foundation of a good virtual meeting is an agenda. Try to organize your activities to place interaction throughout the meeting. And since someone almost always logs in late, don’t put your most important items at the very beginning. Give it a little buffer with announcements that can easily be sent out in a followup email.
What suggestions do you have for achieving your virtual meeting objectives?