virtual meeting

Telecommuters, virtual employees, remote employees, freelancers – the ability to work from home or really any place has taken on a lot of different names. The idea is the same. Technological advances in organizations have made it possible for companies to succeed without the restrictions of a daily trip to the office.

Some organizations are spread out across the country with rare in person meetings. So how do they do it? These organizations rely on technology, but more importantly, they rely on strong leadership. An important step towards providing virtual options for your team is understanding the best way to hold a virtual meeting.

To better understand virtual meetings, let’s look at what a virtual meeting would entail. For the sake of this example, imagine a meeting with eight professionals spread out across the same time zone. Below is the process the leader of the meeting will take to execute the meeting.

Choose Effective Technology

Proper leadership is the key to a virtual meeting, but that leader must also use the right technology. There are many different types of virtual meeting software available. We recommend selecting a software that best enables engagement throughout the group. Consider a software that allows every participant to speak and see the video, provides chat options, enable screen sharing for every individual, and supports the number of users required among other features.

State the Purpose

With invitations, the meeting leader will clearly state the reason for the virtual meeting. The leader will also need to share information on how to join the meeting and what technology will be used. A well-prepared leader will ask the team to test out the technology and begin thinking of the meeting purpose.

Plan an Agenda

An agenda is pivotal for the meeting to run smoothly. The leader of the meeting will prepare an agenda with clearly defined tasks for each attendee. The agenda will be sent out at least 24 hours in advance with an expectation that attendees prepare ahead of time.

Begin with Structure

When the meeting leader begins the virtual meeting, he or she starts the meeting with instructions for how the meeting will be laid out including a recap of the agenda. For instance, the leader will ask for any questions to go through the chat function.

Set Checkpoints

Once the meeting has started, the meeting leader will section off different parts of the agenda. Round robins can help encourage everyone to participate and ensure everyone understands that portion of the agenda. When the group successfully completes a portion of the agenda, the leader will recap the achieved consensus and remind participants of next steps for the meeting.

Encourage Positive Engagement

Assessing and resolving conflicts can be even more challenging when done virtually. Without seeing each other in person, the group could become stubborn. If conflict looms, the group leader might encourage those of an opposing opinion to share strengths for the alternative. When the group looks at alternative strengths they can more clearly reach consensus. Learn more about issue resolution strategies here.

Recap the Meeting

At the end of the meeting, the leader will immediately recap what has been achieved. He or she will prepare the team for next steps and share the recap, so attendees can review further on their own.

If you are looking to plan a successful virtual meeting, a professional facilitator can help you achieve success. The leader we described above has the skills of a professional facilitator. There are training options to learn more about these skills. For some organizations, you might want to consider a professional facilitator to assist with leading your virtual meeting.