Successful Virtual Meetings – Ultimate Guide 1.0

Virtual meetings are online associations that happen over the Internet utilising audio, video, and other applications. You can use Virtual Meetings to conduct corporate meetings, educational discussions, intellectual talks, conversations, team building and mentoring. Some of the common Virtual Meeting platforms include – Zoom, GoogleMeet, MS Team, Cisco Web-Ex etc. To help you succeed in running Virtual Meetings here are a few pointers that could help –

What to do when Virtual Meetings go wrong?

Planning to have a virtual meeting? We have got some tips for you to avoid common challenges when virtual meetings go wrong.

1. Reduced productivity and Zoom fatigue

Problem: One of the most common issues with virtual meetings is Zoom Fatigue. Although virtual meetings and calls can be easily set up, its accessibility is abused by the project managers and leaders. Since employees are pulled into virtual meetings quite often, there is reduced productivity.

Solution: The easiest solution is to schedule fewer meetings. As the project manager, you can distribute the virtual meetings on different days, with different people and limit the time duration. For handling quick updates and questions, collaborative workspaces can be used.

2. Losing time and technical issues

Problem: Managing technology is easy, but the difficult part is to control it. Even with the best practice sessions and setup, there are some technical issues in virtual meetings.

Solution: The easiest solution is to always have a tested backup or contingency plan ready. Agendas and relevant information for your meetings should be planned along with the backup. So, if there is any failure, the participants can immediately switch to the backup plan, without losing out on time. Your participants should be very well aware of the options that you use in virtual meetings. 

3. Communication gap

Problem: Unlike in-person meetings, virtual meetings are limited to visual and audio cues. The problem arises as the participants and the leader’s gestures, pace, tone of voice and body language cannot be understood very well.

Solution: To avert such issues we can adopt the following steps:For your presentation, clear side-decks should be created. This will help in solving one of the major issues encountered in virtual meetings where participants will be able to follow important points of the meeting and eliminate monotony.

Cool Tip 1: Ask your participants to mute their microphones. Unnecessary speaking is not required and hence noise cancellation is the best option.

Cool Tip 2: Engage participants by using screen-sharing tools and files. When you need a response, call each participant by their names.

Cool Tip 3: Do not deviate from the meeting plan. Focus and energy will be maintained.

Cool Tip 4: For every participant, virtual meetings should end with actionable insights. Make sure that every participant should be made aware of their responsibilities before the session is adjourned.

4. Different time zones

Problem: Participants can be from different time zones which might fail your virtual meeting. Prioritizing time schedules would become very difficult. If it is a recurring meeting, think how you can make it convenient for participants to join.

Solution: Choose the time which suits everyone’s time zone. Make your participants feel important and value them. Through this you will have an increased chance of success, motivated teams and productive virtual meetings, eventually.

5. Use relevant apps for virtual meetings

Problem: Remote meetings require time adjusting and in-person transitioning becomes difficult.

Solution: Make use of apps like Wrike, Google Meet, Zoom, etc that help you manage team workloads, track project progress, create and assign tasks, and organize meeting notes.

I would like to reiterate that Virtual Meetings can become more engaging and happening if we can make the attendees also the stakeholders in the meetings. You will hit the bull’s eye if you work with the attendees closely in making every virtual meeting a creative one.

10 Actionable Insights for a first time Virtual Presenter/Trainer

A first-time virtual presenter/trainer can make virtual meetings successful by:

1. Knowing the technology: Your presentation can be spoiled within seconds if you fumble with the technology. You must be very well-versed with the platform features and before the meeting, a dry run is very important.

2. Selecting the right background: Try using a background that is aligned with your message and enhances your professional image. Anything distracting or cluttered background should be avoided. Check whether your virtual meeting app enables you to use the background of your choice.

3. Looking into the camera: While conducting a virtual meeting, your focus should be on the camera and not on your participants or other screen. Turning off the self view, could leave a negative image. Set the camera, so that it comes directly in front of your eyes. Stimulating virtual effects is very important for you to be a powerful presenter. Also, practice your distance and positioning from the camera.

4. Right lighting: Another very important aspect of being a presenter is to make sure that the lighting is right. Try and avoid sitting behind or in front of the window. Try to sit in natural light for enhancing your image.

5. Being animated: To make your presentation, one of the best, try to add some animation and a little energy to it. Too monotone or too slow voice would make your participants tune out or disengage.

6. Pacing yourself: Pacing yourself over a virtual meeting is quite a daunting task. Be energetic, but do not speed up. Practice slow talking, if you talk fast in your real life and if you talk slowly then pace it up a little. Both ways, your participants might be confused.

7. Testing the sound: Many times, our external microphones or headphones do not work properly. In such a case, do all the trials in advance. Every app is different, so excellent sound quality won’t be guaranteed. Being prepared in advance, shows professionalism. Check other technical issues as well.

8. Checking the internet connectivity: One of the strongest connections is plugging into the modem through Ethernet cable. It is the most stable and strongest signal you will ever get. Wi-Fi through mobile phones or other internet connections, are weaker compared to modem connection.

9. Incorporating redundant systems: Creating a copy of your slides, if your internet goes wonky, is the smartest thing to do. Limiting text and adding high-quality graphics is visually appealing. Delivering content and understanding it becomes easy. Slides are there to be explained. If you are going to talk about what is written in the slides, then it does not make any sense.

10. Engaging participants: Last, but not the least, whatever you do, the most important thing to keep in mind, being the presenter or a trainer is that you should know how to engage your audience. Raised hand features, polls, chats should all be incorporated in your virtual meeting. Use short and sweet sentences. Do not have unnecessary prolonged talks, interact with your audience, instruct them to turn their videos on, give them a chance to speak, call them by their names and many other tiny things can be focused on.

In their eagerness to ensure that everything should go well, presenters tend to falter at regular intervals. Being a presenter or a trainer is not a difficult job. Prior to even thinking of becoming a successful organizer of a Virtual meeting, one must understand the technology being incorporated and the nitty-gritty of conducting a Virtual meeting. Also, you should tend to be yourself and have fun, without overdoing anything and that eventually will help you in accomplishing your mission, successfully.

9 Super creative ways to use Break Out Rooms

Setting up virtual break out rooms is very easy. Its exciting features help you to share or circulate messages across all the participants. Let’s take a look at the 09 super creative ways to use Break Out Rooms:

1. Auto-assign: Auto-assign or pre-assign your breakout rooms to set up your participants.Tell them in advance about when, how, and why you are going to use it. While using the new tool, it’s crucial to lower the stakes.

2. Creative problem solving: Participants can be given a particular problem to solve. You can ask them to work together and to look for an effective solution within a specific time limit. You can ask them to distill key points by using the whiteboard feature. Eventually, they can all work out their solution collectively to resolve the problem.

3. Four Corners Debate: Share a topic of discussion during or after the virtual meeting with your participants. Tell your participants about the four stances and they can choose: Agree, Strongly Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Now, give them some time to ponder upon it and then take a decision. Participants can type their choice in the chats. Based on their choice, participants can be placed into their breakout rooms. After they are placed in their breakout rooms further discussions can take place. You can choose a speaker of the group. Let them have discussions, and then the speaker can share the group’s point of view. If any participant changes his or her mind, they can mention in the chat.

4. Small strategic groups: Many participants do not understand a lot of things in the meeting. In such cases, there are chances they might feel left out. So, small strategic groups are created for designing learning tasks and differentiate instruction. This would help in filling in the gaps between the participants and opportunity for remediating.

5. Peer feedback and Editing: Breakout rooms can be used for segregating participants into small groups or pairs for peer feedback and editing. One of the most favorite feedback protocols used in many virtual meetings is PQS, which is defined as Praise, Question, and Suggestion.

6. Project based: Project based breakout rooms are created so that problems can be solved by collaborating small groups and to complete big tasks. To move forward the projects, these breakout rooms are the best.

7. Choice board: To be engaged online, is quite a challenging task. For solving this issue, you can try creating choice board breakout rooms. In this room, you can create activities for your employees/participants to learn about the topic or practice similar skills. Choices can be put forward in the virtual meeting and then they can be pushed into their selected breakout rooms.

8. Share sessions: Last but not the least, breakout rooms can be used for even socializing and chatting. Right after the virtual meeting, discussion starters can be shared with the participants and then they can be divided into small groups. Place them in the breakout rooms and let them connect with each other. 

9. Reflection and takeaways: Last but not the least, reflection and takeaway are one of the best ways to use breakout rooms. Participants can reflect on an exhaustive discussion or a presentation, initiated to serve a purpose followed by identifying steps to be taken to implement those ideas and yield expected results. 

Breakout rooms are intended to streamline crowded meeting rooms into separate rooms that help the organizers in conducting meetings of collaborative groups with likeminded individuals on their chosen subjects or topics. Breakout rooms are an ideal way to host meaningful and goal oriented group discussions among Professionals. 

Actionable Insights to make others talk during Virtual Meetings

Do you want to make others talk during virtual meetings? let’s look at these actionable insights:

Tip 1: Only invite relevant people

In virtual meetings, you should be very careful as to who you are inviting. For your meeting to be more engaging, only invite relevant people. Take some time to think who are important for team-building, brainstorming and for making decisions. Those who are not stakeholders might take over the meeting and derail it.

Tip 2: Very participant should be encouraged to put the video on during the meet

To make others talk during the virtual meetings, insist on using video. Many people put their cameras off which might not make the meeting powerful while engaging the audience becomes easy on-camera. Adjust the audio level and let them see your face and vice-versa. Discussions become easy, and fruitful.

Tip 3: Call participants by their names

Many people like to share their opinion during the meetings, in such cases, being a presenter, try and include everyone in the meeting by calling their names. It would make them feel welcomed. For example, say, Hey Josie, welcome. Stay pleasant visibly.

Tip 4: Purpose of the meeting should be understood by the participants

Participants will be very comfortable, if they clearly know why the meeting is being held. Others will only talk, if they know about the topic, it will help them in share updates, quote opinions, brainstorm ideas and make decisions. Keep reminding them in between about the purpose of the meeting for elevating engagement. Virtual meetings are held to achieve a goal and that’s what your participants must be very clear about.

Tip 5: Creating expectations

Be right upfront about rules of engagement. Let them know their input is valuable and then can safely share it. Don’t be afraid of speaking and share all possible ideas. Focus on communication, and make sure it is engaging. You should set the rules.

Tip 6: Stop and allow people to understand and reflect

Allowing people to understand helps them in digesting the information very well.  Do not talk too fast or too slow. Also it should not be technical or complex to understand. Pausing in a virtual meeting can be challenging but will help the presenter a lot. Make it sound natural. In between your pauses, allow your participants to talk or give some ideas. Since they are given time to digest the information, they can also share their opinions.

Ask what you think or are you with me on this or is it making any sense, etc. Be creative.

Virtual meetings can be a lot of fun if you know how to organize them. Be prepared mentally and physically. Do all the technical runs in advance. Create backups and make it more engaging.

The Thought Bulb is a company that provides virtual training programs for different virtual activities and business simulations. To get practical onsite and offsite corporate virtual training, they are the best.

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