OOMpocalypse: 6 Tips for Secure, Efficient Virtual Meetings
Unquestionably, the level of webinars, virtual meetings, virtual summits, virtual ‘whatevers’ have skyrocketed since much of the country is under stay at home orders. Some organizations have been able to proceed relatively normally working from home. The sudden work from home orders has upended many traditional office environments that did not have any disaster preparedness plans developed.
I’ve personally attended several virtual meetings that turned out to be busts. The hosts couldn’t get the platform to work right, broadband access was an issue, the video conferencing platform had limitations, or meeting facilitators haven’t effectively figured out how to run an entirely virtual meeting yet.
And don’t forget that the influx of so many users to video conferencing platforms has shown security cracks and vulnerabilities, with Zoom getting most of the press.
These six tips will ensure you have a productive and efficient virtual meeting that produce achievable organizational results.
- Purposeful, agenda-driven meetings with a defined outcome.
Before you decide to have any meeting, ask yourself, what is the outcome I need from this? If it’s just to touch base with the team, drop it. There are better ways to reach out to your team than making everyone assemble. Any meeting you have needs to have a business, objective-driven outcome making it worthwhile, or you are burning time and money. Develop a meeting plan with 3 to 5 points and STICK TO IT.
Do not have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. This applies to in-person meetings as well, whenever they can resume again!
- Limit the length of the meeting.
A major issue I have seen is meetings that turn into a sprawling marathon of a mess. A meeting will stretch out into a couple of hours, moving away from the set meeting agenda.
NO, STOP IT.
If you can’t convey your message succinctly in 30 (maybe 45 minutes), that isn’t a valuable meeting, it is torture, and I can guarantee you that people have tuned out as you enter hour number 2 or 3.
Know your audience. Going in-depth on 20 different items is probably not relevant for a large group of people. Separate your presentations into smaller chunks that are aimed at specific subsets of people. You will retain their attention better and their gratitude for not wasting time on items that don’t pertain to them.
- Limit the number of speakers.
A productive meeting will limit the number of presenters per session. I was an attendee of a meeting this past week that had 22 presenters. It took over 30 minutes just to get through the introductions. Overkill and I lost interest.
- Run a test first.
Before your event run a technical test. Ensure each presenter is familiar and comfortable with the technology. Verify with each presenter that they have a reliable broadband connection. You lose the professional look if your presenters can’t get into the meeting or you can’t hear and see them.
- When having an open discussion, the moderator needs to call on people
A problem I’ve seen during open discussion webinars is a lot of dead air. The host throws out a question to the group, and there is a long silence when no one responds. Then several people speak at once “stepping on each” conversationally. For an active discussion, the host or meeting facilitator needs to call on each person individually. You will create a good flow to the conversation.
- Secure your meetings
Zoom made significant headlines the past week for all the wrong reasons when it came to the security of their platform. To ensure your meeting is secured, make sure each meeting session uses a unique ID, require a meeting password to join, and utilize a “close the door” functionality that prevents additional participants from joining once the meeting starts. Under no circumstances should you publicly post an open meeting link on social media or other forums.
I’ve already seen a lot of people tired of virtual meetings. You can count me as one of them. They are overused. There is too many scheduled back-to-back. And management thrust into a remote work environment feels they have lost control and want regular status meetings daily. Be succinct, set standard work submission deadlines, and knock it off with the pointless meetings.
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