There are a lot of benefits with virtual meetings. But they can feel intimidating before you get used to them. There is a different group dynamic compared to face-to-face meetings.
Here is a guide to help you and your board get started.
We recommend using Zoom for the virtual meeting. Our research shows that it is the easiest tool for everyone to get connected.
We have created a separate guide for How to Use Zoom for Virtual Meetings with tips that are specific to that tool.
Call in on Time
Show your meeting colleagues respect by showing up on time. It is disruptive when people arrive late to normal meetings. In virtual meetings it is even more prominent.
Most tools for virtual meetings have a ”waiting room”. So you can call in to the meeting early. Everyone is let in when the host starts the meeting.
Open with Small Talk
Face-to-face meetings always start with some small talk. People tell stories about their journey, or things that happened to them recently, or talk about the weather.
This is an important part of the meeting. It makes everyone feel welcome and sets a friendly tone.
So spend 20 seconds before the meeting to think of something funny or interesting that you can tell. Or ask someone how they got on with their trip/training/course.
Turn on Video
Body language is an important part of human communication. So turn on the video to help your meeting colleagues understand you better.
And use body language during the meeting. Show appreciation by nodding when others speak. Smile when they say something funny. It all helps to improve the atmosphere of the meeting.
Treat it as a Face-to-Face Meeting
We all know how to behave at a face-to-face meeting. We take turns speaking, we pay attention, we participate.
It’s all common sense. A virtual meeting should be no different.
But it is easy to get distracted, by other people (colleagues in the office, or family or pets at home), or by other tasks (emails, cleaning the desk).
So don’t read emails, don’t send texts, don’t carry on side conversations, don’t clean up your desk during the meeting, don’t let colleagues, family, or pets disturb you.
You don’t do those things during a face-to-face meeting, so don’t do it in a virtual meeting either.
And turn on do-not-disturb on your phone. Give the meeting and your colleagues your full attention. They deserve it.
Mute your Microphone
I’m sure you have been on a conference calls where there is a strange background noise - other people speaking, pets barking, cars driving by, keyboard clicks, or just someone clearing their throat.
The human brain is great at filtering out background noise. It can focus on sounds from a specific direction and ignore other noise.
But on a conference call all sounds come through the same speaker. It makes it impossible for the human brain to separate important sounds from background noise.
Most of the time, the person whose microphone picks up the background noise don’t know about the problem. They don’t hear the car/cat/people/keyboard. So, if you hear background noise, give them a friendly nudge and remind them to mute their microphone.
And mute your own microphone, at least when you expect to not be talking for a minute or two. You quickly get used to the habit of un-muting before you speak.