Virtual meetings and teleconferences should follow the same set of rules as conventional, in-person meetings. However, there is an obvious difference between in-person meetings and virtual ones, though (you are not in the same room), so I would add these tips for better virtual meetings:
- Have a very strong leader. Make sure you have a very strong leader who can work through virtual space. If you are leading people virtually, you need a leader who can stay focused and on task, and who can lead others who may be tempted to multitask or stray.
- Send instructions well in advance. Send the information and instructions for joining the conference call at least three days in advance—what number to call, instructions for doing so, etc. Then, send a reminder the day before, again with the instructions. Also send out the agenda, any supporting docs, and a list of participants a few days in advance so people can be prepared.
- Check your connection. Don’t sign in if you have a bad line, so check your connection the day before the meeting.
- Choose a quiet spot. Before you sign in, make sure you are in a quiet spot where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. No chatty co-workers, crying babies, shouting baristas, or ringing phones.
- Be first on the line. The meeting leader or host needs to be the first person to sign in. You need to do this at least three minutes before the appointed time.
- Announce yourself and greet everyone. If you are the host you need to greet each person who joins and tell them who is already on the line, interrupting the chitchat of others if you have to. Say: “I hear someone just joined. This is Mary Abbajay. Who just joined us?” Then say: “Hi Bernie, here is who is already here…”
- Run it. As with a regular meeting, you have to run it. Call the meeting to order. State your goals. Review your agenda. Quickly make introductions.
- Start and end on time.As with all meetings, it is imperative to start and end on time. And never recap for latecomers.
- Close and recap. At the end of the meeting, bring it to a close, recap, and review next steps.
In-person or virtual, all great meetings share a good agenda and a good execution. Stick to these rules and tips and you’ll host a great meeting.