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The Real Truths About Virtual Meetings

Like us, you are probably participating in - or perhaps hosting - more virtual meetings than you ever have before. Also like us, you have probably seen the good, the bad, and he ugly. To help all your meetings classify as "good," here are Five Fast Facts About Presenting from Afar:

Profile photograph of Lynn Hynes
Sara Norris

1. If people are not sharing the video of themselves, they are almost certain to be multi-tasking.

We all do it: listen (sort of) to the meeting while we send a few texts, check our email, plan the rest of our day, play a game on our phone, check our Twitter feed, think about what we are going to do this weekend, whatever. It is the dirty little secret of virtual meetings. Techniques on keeping your participants on topic and engaged are in Fact #5.

2. Resolve the technology in advance.

Participants don’t want to bear with you as you figure out how to mute everyone, share your screen, get a video to play, whatever. If you don’t know the features of the platform, Google them in advance or go to YouTube, specifying whether you want the directions for a PC, a Mac, an Android device, etc. Then experiment with the features during a virtual meeting with your significant other, friend, neighbor as your participant so you can get their input.

3. How you look and sound on camera is important.

Check this in advance. If the camera on your laptop isn’t at eye level, the image on the meeting participants’ screens may be highlighting your jowls and nostrils, which doesn’t do anyone any favors. Feel free to put your laptop up on a pile of books so that you look your best.

Also check your vocal quality in advance. Do you sound okay just using the built-in microphone on your device or do you need to use a headset? A quick search on Amazon found that they are readily available from $13.99 - $59.98, or you could easily secure one locally.

4. Beware of what’s behind you because it will be on camera, too.

I once spent a really dull webinar concentrating on the stuff behind the presenter. I silently wondered why on earth the she had purchased a particularly ugly set of drapes and watched the traffic pass by outside her window.

5. Keep your audience involved.

The general rule of thumb is that you need to use an audience involvement technique at least every 7 – 10 minutes. Ask an ice-breaker question at the start of the meeting. Ask a series of yes or no questions about the meeting topic and have participants raise their hands if they agree. As the meeting progresses, call on someone by name. (This will ensure that person snaps to attention and it will send a message to the other participants that they may be next.) Go around the virtual room soliciting feedback. Use the breakout option and have participants tackle separate challenges, then report back. These techniques can help you run a really efficient meeting that might even end early.

Even after we return to “normal,” companies may decide that virtual meetings are more productive than in-person ones. Taking advantage of these Five Fast Facts will always help you do your best.

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