How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting

How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Meeting

Alright! It’s the start of another work week! It’s Monday. It’s when you usually hold your virtual meeting with your client and his team.

You are in charge of conducting the meeting this time.

Aside from shaking off your Monday blues, what are the other things you need to do in order to ensure you have a successful meeting?

Plan the agenda

Planning your agenda will help you save time, effort and energy. A good meeting agenda communicates important information such as:

  • topics for discussion
  • presenter for each topic
  • duration of each topic

The two most important topics to discuss are: status of tasks/project and roadblocks, if any.

Meeting agenda should be communicated at least 2 days before the meeting.

Here’s an email template you can use:

Email Subject: Let’s meet & talk about Project X
Objective: To keep everyone in the loop about their tasks for Project X
Attendees: You, Your Client, other team members
Date, Time and Duration: Monday, May 8th from 9:00 - 10:00 AM PST
Where: Online via Skype
*Your Name will lead the virtual meeting and record it
Topic: How are we going with Project X?
Allocated time: *Your Name will open the meeting - 5 minutes
*Client Name will share what happened to his weekend and will be giving important announcements - 15 minutes
*Team Member 1 will share what happened to his weekend and will then report the status of his tasks, mention any roadblocks and inform the team if he is on track in meeting his deadline - 10 minutes
*Your Name will share what happened to his weekend and will then report the status of her tasks, mention any roadblocks and inform the team if she is on track in meeting her deadline - 10 minutes
Question & Answer, Comments, Suggestions - 15 minutes
*Your Name will close the meeting - 5 minutes

Note: Sending this email with an RSVP, days in advance, will help confirm if key decision makers and players can attend the meeting. If they can’t attend the meeting then it will be a waste to push it through. In this case, it is best is to reschedule the meeting to mutual availability.

Use the right technology

There are many tools available such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Adobe Acrobat Connect, GoToMeeting and WebEx. To get great results
from your virtual meetings it is important to match the tools and technology to your meeting objectives.

Experts say that when choosing a service think “small”.  They say that the most effective web conferences are those that only use the technology that is needed.” Keeping it simple is the best way to have people focus on your message and not the technology.”

This is true because you don’t want to experience delay in meetings because of tech problems. So, it’s really important to identify which is the best tool to use.

Online meetings systems are designed to support a range of meeting types, but no product supports ALL meetings well so it helps to have options. This may mean investing in more than one meeting platform.

Groups have more productive and engaging meetings when they use tools designed for the type of meetings they run.

Stay focused

Stick to the agenda and don’t exceed the time allotment, as much as possible. Set some simple rules at the start of the meeting like:

  • put your microphone on mute when someone else is speaking to lessen some background noise being heard by all attendees
  • write down your questions, suggestions & comments first until the last person has finished speaking because a free-flow discussion will follow

Stay in control of the flow of questions and answers, comments and suggestions. Don’t let it go in loops or worse, lead to heated debates. Know how to handle unsettled issues and personal comments that could make meeting times longer.

You also must know when an issue is worth the time discussing during that meeting or it can be held off for another time such or can be settled through email.

Quality meetings should discuss first what’s important, solve problems and finish on time.

Keep your meeting engaging

The lack of visual cues is perhaps the most difficult aspect of facilitating a virtual meeting. While video conferencing can help, this is often hard to coordinate with groups considering it will eat up a lot of bandwidth.

So, make sharing your personal lives a part of your virtual meetings just like you would in face-to-face meetings. Start your meeting with introductions, a story or a joke!

During the part of the meeting when roadblocks are discussed, Don’t ask generic questions. Ask specific and appropriate questions like:

  • What might get in the way of this? What issues can you see?
  • What are the key changes you can identify?
  • Which option should we pursue?
  • What do we need to do to move forward?
  • How could we tackle this issue?

Give the group time to explore one question before moving on to another , It’s hard to identify problems and solve them at the same time!

Follow through

Don’t assume that ideas discussed during a meeting will be put into action or even remembered. To ensure follow-through and accountability you must:

  • Send a copy of the recording to all attendees including those that didn’t make it to the meeting.
  • Archive meeting documents. Storing it in a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder will work.

Doing these two things will ensure that everyone is clear about his agreed-upon responsibilities and deadlines.

Here’s an email template you can use when you send your post-meeting message:

Subject: Summary of our meeting re Project X : Date
Hi *Name,

It’s always great to catch up with you! Thank you for setting aside some time to meet with me/the team today.

Here is where you can access the recording of today’s meeting as well as some documents - *add link to the shared file

Feel free to let me know if you need my help or if you have any questions.

Brian Tracy, the authority in sales training and personal success has this to say about conducting a successful meeting:

*He didn’t speak about virtual meetings but it’s the same concept. Who would ever question, THE Brian Tracy? 😉

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Gwenn Doria

Founder and Author at Virtual Success Avenue
Hey there, awesome! I started this blog because I understand the challenges of starting out and thriving as a professional working from home. My aim is to empower aspiring and fellow Virtual Assistants by sharing tips, inspiring stories and lessons learned about the Virtual Assistant industry. Get to know me more by visiting the "About Me" page. 🙂 Cheers!