Ten top tips on how to put some much needed va va zoom into your virtual meetings!

Tired, exhausted, fatigued by virtual meetings? Here are ten top tips on how to put some much needed va va zoom into your virtual meetings!

Virtual meetings fatigue is setting in! We’re now in week six of “lockdown” and working virtually is taking its toll. One of the ways that we have found to keep our virtual meetings really delivering has been through using technology as a key enabler blended with our facilitation skills and experience! So, since the start of the current crisis, we have been taking an extreme crash course on the best digital platforms and solutions available to enhance client experience when it comes to virtual meetings!

To be honest, a major part of the challenge is there are so many different digital platforms and solutions constantly emerging. Also, our clients clearly have certain preferences and/or parameters within which they work when it comes to the tech (eg firewalls) they use for virtual meetings and events.

Our intent with this insight is to pull together and share a useful list with you as you rapidly adapt (as we are) to doing all your meetings and events virtually. If you are interested in knowing a bit more about the structuring and facilitating of virtual meetings that pack a punch, then we suggest you check out earlier blog on five top tips to plan and host successful virtual meetings.

Our tips are based on what we’ve seen work well as experienced facilitators and not tech experts – this does not mean there aren’t different and more effective platforms and solutions emerging or already out there.  We are always on the lookout (so please share if you have other suggestions!) but we have attempted to highlight below what we think works well for our clients and us.

  1.  Meetings, workshops, team meetups etcwe find Zoom to be the best platform for sheer stability especially when dealing with volume of participants, low cost barriers to entry and ease of access. In particular, the breakout rooms functionality is very intuitive and allows for great participant engagement.  Being able to combine the use of Zoom with digital tools like Jamboard, Mural, Miro or Mentimeter etc can make for a much more interactive experience for all participants. We recognise there are concerns around Zoom Bombing, however, many of these concerns are being actively worked on and have been rectified.
  2. Virtual conferences, forums, summits etcwe have yet to use either Hopin or Remo but our colleagues who are very active in organising virtual conference and summits have shared with us some really positive experience of these tools. Again, low cost barrier, flexibility and ease of use are cited as some of the main reasons for their popularity.
  3. Co-development toolsthe opportunity to leverage Jamboard, Mural, Miro in combination with a virtual meeting room set up like Zoom helps you to have truly interactive, co-development type sessions. By using functions like post-it notes, you can increase the engagement exponentially of participants.
  4. Polling, quizzes, word clouds etcthese tools come into their own in both formal and informal virtual meeting settings. We have used both Mentimeter and Slido with great success in conjunction with Zoom when facilitating virtual meetings, workshops and meetups. Using polling, quiz and word cloud functions can really pull participants into the discussions
  5. Recording and editingwhilst many of the virtual meeting room products let you record the sessions; you may also want to consider using a tool like Loom which allows you to record your screen. This can be particularly useful if you’re considering packaging up the event as an online download available to a broader audience (eg as a training module).
  6. Meeting planning collaborationwe use both Trello and Google docs to plan our meetings and as part of follow up communications to great effect. Trello boards in particular can be very helpful to break down a bigger meeting and enable you to manage real time as the meeting takes place.
  7. Following up discussionssharing information post meeting or event via Slack can enable participants and the community to continue to engage with each other and you post event.
  8. Close captions real time  – virtual meetings are a challenge from an inclusion perspective, much has been written about how those with disabilities struggle in the virtual meeting environment. A number of virtual meeting set ups allow for real time close captions. We are aware that Zoom is currently working with Rev to beta test AI based live closed captioning which is good news.
  9.  A note on hardwarestand-alone webcams headsets and green screens – we have briefly written about these elements in the insight mentioned above. To be honest, we have no particular recommendations to make on these. It really is a case of personal preference and trial and error. We would add though that a corporate branded green screen (which you can design in powerpoint and upload in zoom) depending on the context of the meeting or event, can be a really nice touch!
  10. Finally on a light-hearted note, one of the most bizarre (and for the sake of transparency we have not yet tried this with a client!) is the Sign Up for Goat 2 Meeting. Yes, you can have a goat or lama, or alpaca join your meeting at the start! Apparently, it is supposed to help ground you and your meeting participants by listening to the natural noises (not sure exactly what sort of natural noises…). Maybe one to consider for the future! https://www.sweetfarm.org/goat-2-meeting

 PS Final top tip –  look at liberating structures app! Some great concepts to use when facilitating any kind of session but are particularly useful in virtual meetings.

James Hasler and Rebecca Hill are both principal consultants at HaslerHill Consulting, an organisation specialising in moderation, facilitation and curation of events, as well as as presentation skills and public speaking skills training. If you would like to learn more about the services they offer and how they can be of benefit to your business, please get in touch via the HaslerHill Consulting contact page or call +44(0) 7773 229909 jameshaslervoice TMITRC and Wise Sherpa



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