With many organizations forced to go remote in 2020 (including us!), traditional meetings have been quickly swapped for a virtual meeting. And if it feels as though the shift happened overnight – it’s because it nearly did. In just one month, the video-conferencing app Zoom saw a spike of 728% in first-time app downloads. Society may have embraced the move to online workspaces, but virtual meetings are still completely new territory to many of us. If you’re suddenly navigating the world of online video conferencing, we’ve broken down some best practices and resources to help with the transition.
Choosing a Platform
First, ask yourself a few key questions to get a better idea of which meeting platform will best serve your needs. What is the nature of your meeting? Who is your audience? What is your budget? Your answers will help you choose between such options as social media live streaming, larger webinar platforms, or more basic video apps for one-on-one meetings.
Each of the major social media platforms offers a live video function – a great tool for engaging with a large audience or making a company announcement. The built-in comment ability is perfect for Q&As and tutorials when you would like your audience’s input. Facebook and Instagram have the most user-friendly live video capabilities, while Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube need some extra set up. (But if the majority of your audience engages on these apps, it is worth filling out an application or downloading a third-party app to be able to use its live video feature! Read more about that here).
“Webinar” is just another word for a virtual conference or event. Typically used for presentations, staff meetings, and other larger-group settings, a webinar platform can be particularly useful if you have a mailing list of people to whom you’d like to send a meeting invite and link. Some great webinar apps include:
- Zoom Webinar
- Google Meet
Each of these apps are compatible with mobile, laptop, and desktop, but the first four are better equipped for mobile than the last two.
Unfortunately, gone are the days we can meet up for a quick coffee or a sit-down lunch with our clients and colleagues – at least for the time being. Instead, take your one-on-one meetings online with any of these free, easy-to-use apps for mobile or desktop:
- Microsoft Teams (At least one person must have an Office 365 subscription)
- JoinMe (free trial)
- Google Meet
Online meetings are now the glue that holds many remote teams and businesses together. Embrace them!
Running an Effective Virtual Meeting
If you are hosting a virtual meeting, preparing beforehand will help your meeting run more smoothly. It all comes down to keeping your audience engaged and focused. Here are some best practices you can implement:
Do Some Prep Work
Let your participants know of any “rules” or etiquette before your meeting starts; these may include dress code, muting microphones, or requiring the camera to be on.
Create an outline or agenda – just as you would for a normal meeting – and distribute in advance to help your audience follow along.
Have any relevant documents or website pulled up on your desktop if you choose to screen-share.
During the Meeting
Remember to introduce everyone in the meeting who has not previously met.
Give time before or after the meeting for casual conversation (don’t forget that meetings foster human connection, especially during this difficult time).
Be as interactive with participants as possible – ask questions and encourage input. This can help everyone feel like they are contributing.
Set a timeline for the next meeting and create an invite within 48 hours if possible.
Gather feedback from your attendees! Inquire as to what they thought worked or didn’t work, and implement some of their suggestions in the next meeting.
More Quick Tips!
- Don’t post your Zoom meeting link publicly – you’ll risk strangers “Zoom-bombing” your meeting. Set and distribute a password only to invited/confirmed attendees.
- Choose a platform that functions on all devices – for example, FaceTime only works on Apple products, and not everyone has a Skype login
- If you want your audience’s full attention, choose a platform with a recording option and send them the video afterward, instead of them taking notes
Online meetings are now the glue that holds many remote teams and businesses together. Embrace them! They’re likely here to stay. Many statistics show that working from home leads to increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and money saved. Learning how to host virtual meetings is sure to serve you in your current and future career plans.