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Virtual Meetings / Online Meetings

Virtual Meetings: Tips for Success

Businesses are relying on virtual meetings more and more.  Virtual meetings are convenient, reduce expensive travel costs, and fit more readily into busy schedules.  Leaders must realize however that not all participants may feel comfortable with virtual meetings and subsequently they must allow for both a learning curve and an adjustment period.

The tips below may help you to make your virtual meeting/online meeting more efficient and productive.  The tips are geared mostly for videoconferencing but apply to phone conferences as well.

1. Limit the number of participants in your virtual meetings.

2. Before the virtual meeting begins, test the technology to make sure it is working properly.

3. Donít use virtual meetings for long, single speaker presentations.

4. Since not everyone may be comfortable with virtual meetings, the facilitator should make sure that everyone is drawn into the process.  Participants who are uncomfortable with technology may tend to withdraw and not participate like they would in face-to-face meetings.

5. Until all participants have an understanding of the technology someone should be nearby to help; also, if necessary, develop a simple how-to guideline sheet for the effective use of the technology.

6. Since virtual meetings are less fluid than face-to-face meetings, be careful to avoid side conversations, external interruptions, and talking over a speaker.

7. In a virtual meeting make an extra effort to speak loudly and clearly into the microphone, look into the camera, and avoid exaggerated gestures and side conversations.

8. Let the others know if you canít hear or see something clearly.

9. Participants must be located in quiet settings to avoid distractions, interruptions, and external noise.

10. Unless the participants know each other well, ask speakers to state their name before they speak.

11. Take into consideration different time zones so that your virtual meeting is convenient for everyone.

12. Send agenda and other handouts via e-mail allowing plenty of time for participants to print off copies for themselves

13. As with face-to-face meetings have someone take notes and send them out promptly after the meeting.

14. The team leader must support and encourage virtual meetings until all team members are accustomed  to them.