Establish ground rules: C
ommon challenges with virtual meetings concern distraction by workplacesurroundings and the temptation to multi-task. Instruct attendees to treat this virtual session as theywould a live, in-person meeting. That means turning off phones, closing all other online distractions(including email), and setting work aside.
Scale back for success:
To enhance participation and preserve the
limit virtualsessions to a two-hour window and cap the attendees to no more than 50 at each session. This mayrequire hosting multiple sessions by time zone or region.
Step two: Make it interactive
Just because leader
in the same room doesn’t mean
virtualstrategic discussions must sacrifice interactivity. Consider these ways topromote two-way engagement:
Turn the spotlight away from the CEO:
limit messagedelivery to the executive team. Encourage relevant participantsfrom across the organization to take part in the meeting. Ratherthan scheduling an executive team member to talk aboutproduct strategy, arrange for the product manager and membersof the product team to talk about their experiences, challengesand successes in launching the product and what they envisionahead. Then, have a VP summarize the discussion and lead thevirtual Q&A with attendees and presenters.
Put a face to a voice:
Most virtual tools offer a video componentso take advantage of it. Keep in mind that many of these toolslimit the number of live video feeds. Use them strategically.Consider grouping presenters in the same room to leveragevideo feeds.
Break it up with working sessions:
Encourage participants ateach location to gather in a conference room to join the sessiontogether. Then use those local groups to host short breakoutworking sessions to focus discussion on an assigned topic orchallenge. Pre-assign someone to lead these discussions andreport back findings to the larger group.
Talk less, listen more:
Use the 70/30 rule
devote no more than70 percent of a meeting to presentation and the remaining 30percent for two-
way discussion. It’s always a good idea to break
up this discussion throughout the session.
Mix it up:
Give people options to engage during the meeting.Provide moments to open the lines for two-way discussion, butalso invite attendees to pose questions throughout via virtualmeeting features such as the chat function. Address chatquestions as they come in, when appropriate.
Role call: The four people everyvirtual session should have
Executing a virtual meeting shouldnever be a one-person show. Eachsession should include these fourroles:
1.Host and timekeeper:
This individualkicks off the meeting, sets theground rules and outlines what theinteractive segments willencompass. They also keep thepresentation on schedule,preserving the time allocated fortwo-way dialogue.
This person’s only
obligation is to deliver an engaging and informed presentation. It
doesn’t mean han
dling thetechnical aspects. The presentershould be coached to ask forquestions from participants.
This individualmanages the virtual experience byadvancing the deck, executing pollsand monitoring online chats andQ&As. The administrator works intandem with the host to ensurefeedback is addressed during themeeting.
4.On-hand technical expert:
Even withthe most thorough preparations,
something’s bound to go wrong.
Make sure a technical expert, ideallysomeone from IT, is present before,during and after the session.