December 23, 2015


5 tips for creating powerful virtual meetings

Virtual meetings can be incredibly successful. This is especially true when enterprise video strategies are in place, as these sessions can create powerful connections between your workers. Being able to see each other face-to-face creates the same atmosphere as an in-person session even though the group can’t all be in the same place, at the same time. That said, video’s potential doesn’t guarantee that every virtual meeting will be an unmitigated success. You need to plan carefully to create a good meeting, and following these five tips will help you create a pattern of success with virtual session.

1. Set clear expectations
What kind of behavior is expected when workers attend a video meeting that is entirely internal as opposed to a session involving clients or external stakeholders? What kind of dress is expected at a video meeting? What levels of background noise is acceptable (hint: employees blaring music in their apartment while signed on to a video session doesn’t work well)? These questions may sound like basic standards for professionalism, but many people think of virtual meetings as inherently more casual because they aren’t in the office. Make sure everybody understands what is expected of them before they sign on to the event.

2. Encourage everybody to make sure the technology works
You certainly need to check the video setup in the office to make sure video will work well both in terms of the actual presentation and the network’s ability to support content delivery. However, it is also key to ask employees to check their video setup at home in advance to make sure it will work. Countless video meetings have been delayed substantially while users email back and forth to troubleshoot problems. Make sure these issues are taken care of in advance so that nobody will be wasting time at the session.

3. Train workers to understand the nuances of video
Video is a powerful tool, but it doesn’t create exactly the same feel as an in-person meeting. It is far better than a phone conference, but people can still struggle to identify the best times to pitch in with their opinion in the conversation, speak loudly and clearly enough to be heard over Internet connections and keep up with who is speaking at all times. These are not giant hurdles, but they can certainly be a roadblock to a good meeting.

Ensuring your workers understand how holding a meeting over video will impact the session is essential if you want to avoid any awkward issues. For example, have your employees meet internally via video and give each other feedback on whether they are speaking loudly enough, or with too much volume, can go a long way to ensuring that your more formal sessions are successful. Similarly, training your workers to understand small details – like how data moving through the network can experience small amounts of latency, leading to slight delays in content delivery, is key. In this case, the latency can lead to some confusion as to whether or not people are finished speaking or if somebody else has jumped into the conversation. Attention to detail is critical in making video work well.

4. Establish camera standards
Not every camera is created equal, and you need to ensure your employees working remotely are using high enough quality cameras to have a positive impact on the event. This should be a relatively simple step – you probably just need to send out an email asking people to check that their camera captures video at a certain resolution, depending on your preference, and be set – but it is also an incredibly important part of the process. A meeting can get awkward fast when five people are showing up in clear HD while one person’s face is pixelated and not animating correctly while the individual speaks because they are using an old webcam.

5. Get everybody involved early
Not everybody is comfortable with technology. In some cases, people can be intimidated about participating in a video meeting because they are not sure if they will be heard, how to act in front of the camera or when it will be best to interject in the conversation. Training and expectations, as already discussed, can assuage these concerns. However, you want your virtual meetings to be as natural as in-person sessions, and the best way to do that is to get everybody involved and comfortable early. Use an ice-breaker question to get everybody talking or just be intentional to include everybody in the conversation in the first few minutes of the session to get people involved.

Video meetings can provide a huge boost over other types of virtual sessions, and these five tips can help you take them to another level and create an experience that is comparable to an in-person session.