Health concerns are pushing virtual meetings up the agenda. Shifting the balance from face to face towards more virtual meetings also helps save money, time and carbon.
Yet in practice people often find virtual meetings frustrating, disappointing and ineffective.
Having designed and facilitated virtual meetings for more than ten years, I find the same problems crop up time and again: technology problems, people speaking over each other, difficulties in working out whether people are really engaged.
Here are ten things that help – not the whole story but some top tips for success
1. Plan what you can do before and after the workshop (‘asynchronously’) and what will be covered in the workshop itself (‘synchronously’)
2. Plan for no more than two hours in one session and have a short comfort break half way through
3. Make it interactive by using different features of the platform (Zoom, Teams, Adobe Connect etc) such as annotation, polls, break out rooms
4. Set ways of working (‘ground rules’) so that people can request the floor, don’t talk over each other etc.
5. Have one person responsible for facilitating the group and one looking after tech issues
6. Vary the pace by dividing into smaller sub groups
7. Use webcams to maximise human connection but be aware that anyone without a webcam may feel excluded
8. Good visuals and the opportunity to annotate them make it engaging
9. Save and distribute workshop outputs
10. Finish on time!
It would be great to have thoughts from others about what makes for successful virtual meetings.