7 ways to boost your virtual meeting IQ

Meetings occur more frequently than presentations, so it’s not surprising that the same is true online (and it’s what prompted me to write the latest book). The good news is that they don’t have to royally suck. Here are a few tips to improve your impact.

Getting started:  Master the instant meeting

Most people still approach online meetings as an “event.” In other words, it’s something you schedule out in the future.  This is a missed opportunity for productivity.

As you grow comfortable with using instant meetings (like you use the telephone), you’ll quickly find it powerful to add “show” to your “tell.”

Preparation:  Ask all participants to join from their own computer

A communication medium changes how messages are transmitted and received. The challenge you face if some participants are virtual and others are in the same room together is that you rob yourself (and them) of the chance to have co-equal access to the tools for collaborating, chatting, etc.

To optimize your ability to connect with everyone in the meeting, and to enable them to participate most effectively, each person in the meeting needs equal access…an equal “chair at the table” if you will.

Preparation:  Choose meeting tools based on meeting objectives

The power of any tool isn’t just that it exists, but also that you use it in the right context.  During the webinar we looked at how, as your communication needs change, the way you use a feature in your web conferencing solution may change to enable that communication.

Remember there are no hard rules – let your meeting objectives with your audience will determine your needs, and you may plan to change (i.e., turn on/off a feature) on-the-fly.

Collaboration:  Turn your agenda into a working document

The challenge with an agenda is twofold: You only see it once, and it’s not a living, breathing document. Use Word (or equivalent) so can take notes, assign action items, etc.

The benefits? You save transcribing whiteboard or yellow-pad notes, make it easy to quickly share after the meeting, and you can use it as an ongoing, ‘living’ document.

Collaboration:  Capture meeting content digitally

Beyond the meeting agenda, what about all the other written forms of communication that occur either as part of the meeting or when it’s outside the scope of the meeting objectives?

Capturing chat to use in another document is easy, and this is most useful if your web conferencing solution captures chat content in a log or report that you can access after the meeting.

Presentation:  Engage visually by thinking visually

Web conferencing provides a significant benefit beyond just a conference call:  The ability to engage your meeting participants visually.

A visual doesn’t necessarily have to be a photograph. It can be any way of engaging the sense of sight and making your point that assists the talk track of your presentation.

Presentation:  Learn to dialogue naturally using tools

Airplane pilots learn to fly by sight and instinct, but they also must learn to fly by their instruments.  Video conferencing is great, but it’s not the only answer.

Most of the better web conferencing solutions have tools that facilitate help you take offline behaviors and move them online (see the chart on page six of this paper for examples).


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