Preparing for virtual meetings
- Preparation is key. Make sure you are aware of everyone’s different time zones, working days and working hours before planning meetings. This ensures you do not have to keep re-planning and re-scheduling important conversations.
- Write and circulate an agenda before the meeting. If everyone is aware of the main points to be discussed prior to the meeting it means it can be started faster without individuals feeling as though they have to refresh themselves on the call’s purpose. Having an agenda beforehand also gives people the chance to think about what they can contribute and what questions they have before the meeting actually starts.
- Consider the length of the meeting. It is important that meetings are kept as short and sweet as possible to keep people’s attention and make sure no time is being wasted. When setting up a meeting be sure to also set a time frame, meanwhile assign an individual as timekeeper during the meeting to keep it on track.
- Trial software beforehand and make sure everyone has access to it. As there are so many virtual meeting platforms available now, it is useful to test a few and see what works best for you and others on the call. Some platforms are more limited in the free version so it may be worth paying to get full access to allow more people to partake in meetings (don’t forget to check if charity discounts are available first!). It is also important to circulate invitations in advance to give people time to download any software they may need to.
- Think about who needs to be there. To avoid time wasting only invite the people who you think need to attend and let others get on with their to do lists.
Running virtual events
Make sure your environment is appropriate for your meeting. You may think where you are is less important in a virtual meeting, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Try to make sure your environment is suitable for the person or people you are speaking to. Calls with your team may be less formal (and may even include the odd pet or small child!) but calls with funders, for example, probably shouldn’t! Make sure you have checked your microphone and camera are working properly and you are in a space that is free of unwanted noise and distractions. If circumstances don’t allow you to have a distraction-free space, you may wish to make this known at the beginning of the call, so everyone is clear on what is going on in the background and save any potential embarrassment.
Encourage interaction. To keep people in involved in the meeting it is sometimes useful to assign roles and responsibilities such as someone to keep the meeting on topic. Make sure everyone on the call has a chance to speak, if someone hasn’t said much it can help to encourage them to share their thoughts. This ensures all comments are heard and taken into account.