Welcome to the twenty-first century, where face-to-face meetings have been replaced with virtual meetings. Have you ever been anchoring a virtual meeting and felt frustrated because you couldn’t see their faces and so you found it difficult to tell whether you were actually communicating? Which makes one wonder - isn’t the main point of meetings to communicate and read from their expressions and body language exactly people are thinking?
Truthfully, in a globalized world, where your company can have investors from all around the world, video calls/virtual meetings are the way to go. They provide low-cost convenience but also present challenges for whoever is anchoring the meeting. As the facilitator of the meeting, it is your duty to manage group dynamics, keep the discussion on track and ensure that the objectives of the meeting are met to a reasonable extent.
With face-to-face meetings, you do not struggle with things like picking a venue, time zone restrictions, or the availability of technology and internet connection. With virtual meetings, it is important you take into consideration things like how to ask and answer questions during the meeting, especially since you cannot see someone’s raised hand or quizzical expression during the meeting. It is also important for you consider the timing, in the case of multiple time-zones. You will need to make sure to have the meeting at a time that is fairly convenient for everybody.
Technology is great and all, but we all know that Murphy’s law states that anything that can go wrong, will. This applies to technology too. So, in cases of virtual meetings, it is important that you – the facilitator – logs in a few minutes early to ensure that everything is in place for the meeting. It also helps to have everyone introduce themselves every time they want to speak to avoid unnecessary ambiguities, except it is a small meeting involving individuals already acquainted with each other.
It is a bit difficult to carry everyone along during virtual meetings, especially as you cannot look them all in the eye. To manage this, it helps to pay closer attention to the quiet ones and prompt them to speak. After the meeting, it is always a great idea to write a quick follow-up email with notes from the meeting to ensure that you are all on the same page.
By paying attention to simple things like the points noted above, you can have a very fulfilling and effective virtual meeting with your collaborators.