Though leading online meetings might be challenging, the professional life of the company can not exclude them. That is why following certain key elements of online boardroom meetings is crucial.
The difference between online and face-to-face meetings
Online communication takes more effort and attention than meetings in real life. Because of the screen online, it is more difficult to read the body language, facial expressions and emotions of other people. At the same time, with the camera turned on, you are always under surveillance, and this is an additional stress factor.
Nevertheless, the future lies in the combined workspace, where using online meetings are just inevitable. That is why the ability to engage colleagues in a dialogue or presentation has become a key skill.
The online format has four main differences:
- more distractions,
- weak interaction with the audience,
- technical difficulties,
- poor meeting management.
To ensure that online meetings are not useful, but beneficial, experts recommend preparing in advance and applying ten facilitation techniques.
1. Use the Check-in technique
Start the meeting with attunement. Ask each participant to tell something about themselves and answer the questions: “What is the most important thing for me at the meeting?” and “What needs to happen at the meeting to make it as useful as possible?”
This will help to include each participant on a semantic, physical and emotional level. They will be able to speak out, voice their point of view, hear and feel others at the very beginning of the meeting.
2. Explain the purpose and plan of the meeting
Explain to the participants of the meeting: what will happen and why everyone was gathered. To do this, clearly present the purpose and plan of the meeting. Prepare a separate slide in the presentation, speak the agenda aloud and collect feedback from the participants – what and how they understood.
Appoint or invite a meeting facilitator who will oversee the structure of the meeting and make it productive.
What does a facilitator do:
- manages the meeting process;
- sets the format and questions for discussion;
- focuses participants on the goal;
- brings people back into the discussion if they were distracted;
- forms a common understanding – what you are doing, what you have already achieved and what will happen next;
- keeps the pace of discussion and keeps track of time.
4. Organize the activity of participants
The more people do something on their own, the more they feel interested in the process and satisfaction, so plan more engaging activities. We recommend to ask questions in cht, divide participants into groups for discussion of new solutions and don’t forget to vary activities and discussion formats to keep attendees focused and interested.
5. Appreciate everyone’s contribution
Everyone wants to be useful, meaningful and influence the situation. Create conditions in which all participants will be heard. Help people speak, prioritize and address in person.
6. Explore online platforms
Online collaboration platforms help the team visualize and capture ideas. Use boards for drawing and voting, use templates for discussions.
7. Create a safe and open environment
Online, any caustic remark sounds louder and is perceived more sensitively. Your task as an organizer and facilitator is to create a safe environment for constructive communication.
Introduce rules of respect for each other: do not criticize and do not get personal.
8. Share thoughts, create solutions together
Talk to people: ask for their opinions, share experiences and visions. Analyze situations together and look for solutions to problems, agree on plans. Use online voting in meetings and in general chats actively.
9. Watch the energy of the group
The host of the online meeting sets the pace and rhythm for the whole discussion. Dynamics and speed are especially important online, because physically we get tired faster, and the duration of meetings is shorter. Take breaks and warm-ups – help the group to be in a resource state.
10. Manage the psycho-emotional background of the meeting
Maintain a friendly atmosphere and show a keen interest in other people. Talk about business and personal topics. Demonstrate the general contact of the audience, despite the physical distance from each other. For example, try to organize a “micro-positive” at each meeting: tell the good news or find out about the affairs of colleagues.