Lights on, doors open in the age of coronavirus
If your job involves meeting with other people and engaging in group analysis and decision making, I imagine that a lot of meetings are getting put on hold, cancelled, or changed to virtual sessions. This will probably continue for the next several months.
How to stay productive when face to face meetings are unrealistic? Use of web conferencing tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Ring Central can help projects move along, even when traditional workgroup sessions are not possible. Here’s some practical tips and tricks to make the most of your virtual sessions.
For the moderator/host:
Know your stuff. Practice with the tool. Figure out in advance how to mute a participant that put you on hold and is now blaring music into your conference call.
Realize that there are different virtual practices and protocols for small, mid-size, and large groups.
It is helpful to have an additional person monitor back channel communications (chat, participant list while you work the front channel communications).
Shorter is always better for virtual meetings.
Try to send out materials & homework in advance, and minimize the free-for-all of open group talking when groups reach more than 5 participants. Do facilitated round robins, use the quick feedback tools available to participants, and encourage use of the chat features where possible.
Have documents queued up and ready to share. Generally, it’s best to share your screen rather than an application window, especially if you are switching among docs/apps.
For the participant:
Know your stuff. Set up and test the web conference software in advance.
Log in a few minutes early and verify audio/video participation as needed.
Be extra prepared for the meeting, and try to avoid multi-tasking during the virtual session.
These are just a few general ideas for facilitating and participating in virtual sessions. Next up, I’ll discuss some more detailed tips about working with groups of different sizes and effective ways to ensure full participation.