How to Be Your Best in a Virtual Meeting

Virtual meetings can be as effective and meaningful as in-person meetings. While there are different challenges to facilitating and participating in a virtual meeting, having a good facilitator and engaged participants is critical. As a professional facilitator, here are some tips I have collected and experienced myself to help you be your best participant.

  • Complete any pre-work in a timely manner. This will help in preparation for a productive meeting. It gives your facilitator good information to prepare the best agenda with access to any data that can be gathered upfront.
  • Check the technology ahead of time. Be sure you are comfortable with the major features.
  • Log into the meeting a few minutes early. Leave plenty of time to get into the application and get settled in front of your computer or the device you are using. The start of the meeting can be delayed when people are new to the technology or haven’t allowed enough time to get into ready mode.
  • Give your full attention during the virtual meeting. It is easier to be distracted and not fully present with virtual calls. Eliminate distractions such as checking e-mail, doing other work, checking Facebook, and people coming in and out of your workspace.
  • Make sure your face is visible if video is being used. The meeting is much more effective if people can see your facial expressions and body language.
  • Be aware of your webcam being on or off. I read a comment from my son’s college parents’ Facebook page this week that a student was walking around his room nude as his class went virtual this week. His computer was on mute, so it took a few minutes to let him know his webcam was on.
  • Stay focused on the meeting objectives. If a question or idea comes up for you during the virtual meeting, write it down and send it to the meeting facilitator or appropriate person after the meeting.
  • Be mindful of time zone differences. When meeting participants are joining from all over the United States or world, be sure to align the meeting time with your time zone. 
  • Follow-through when you commit to actions during the meeting. Actions are far less likely to be done after virtual meetings compared to face-to-face meetings.
  • Participate without talking over people. One of the biggest challenges in virtual meetings is engagement. 
  • Encourage others to participate. If you haven’t heard from someone on the call, ask what they are thinking.
  • Know who is in the meeting. You can’t always see everyone in the meeting so be sure you have a list of participants. This helps when you want to hear from subject matter experts or want to engage someone you have not heard from while in the meeting. 
  • Volunteer to take on a key role like timekeeper, scribe, or facilitator. The facilitator can make or break the productivity of a virtual meeting. Sometimes it is appropriate and best to engage an outside professional facilitator.

You can contribute to the value you and other participants get from virtual meetings. Everyone has an important role in achieving your meeting objectives. I encourage you to be your best participant. 

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