• Sheryl Trent

So You Wanna Lead a Virtual Meeting....

Techniques for Facilitating Virtual Meetings


I know…there are SO MANY articles and blogs right now about virtual meeting facilitation. And many of them are helpful! What I want to do is offer you some specific techniques that are easy to implement so that you can do something different at your very next meeting. I’ll put these into three categories: FUN, ANTI-FUN, and PRACTICAL.


Fun


Feeling like a “Zoombie”? Virtual meetings are so prevalent today that they can be emotionally and physically draining and, dare I say, boring. You probably heard that Citi Group is declaring Friday as a Zoom Free Day – and I’m guessing there was a significant sigh of relief from many employees! So here are four techniques I use to have more fun in Zoom meetings that are quick, easy, and don’t require a lot of work from anyone:


1) Have participants wear their favorite hat and tell us why

2) Have a “theme” and ask participants to create and use a Zoom background that reflects that theme (favorite vacation spot, pets, family)

3) Ask your participants to share a photo (enable share screen for all) and talk about that photo for 30 seconds.

4) Request song selections from each participant (with some guidelines) and play those songs at the beginning, during breaks, or as background when they are working in your meeting


Anti-Fun (AKA Dysfunctional)


The main reasons virtual meetings become frustrating or boring is because of dysfunctions in the group. We’ve all seen the “worst Zoom meetings ever” and read hysterical stories of people going to the bathroom with video on…but I’m talking about the common dysfunctions. Dysfunction can be avoided by anticipating it and then reacting to it (to learn more about dealing with dysfunction, you can take one of our online courses or our Essential Facilitation Skills training).

Anticipating it: use ground rules, plan engagement exercises, have ideas at the ready for when it happens

Reacting to it:

1) Not paying attention: take a break, play music, call on people by name in a round robin, have participants stand and stretch

2) Not participating take a break and ask them how you can help, change type of interaction (chat, breakroom, raise hands, round robin, rotating charts, write it down, post it notes, etc)

3) Oversharing/overtalking/dominating the conversation: set good ground rules, change the way you ask for feedback

4) Not on camera: depending on your ground rules, send them a request to turn on camera; set up an exercise that requires camera (waving of hands, wearing a hat)


Practical


As a virtual facilitator, it is important that you have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. So, ask yourself: what are the worst-case scenarios that might happen? Then plan for all those scenarios. The best idea is still the least obvious


- Have a second facilitator/producer on the virtual meeting with you. I prefer to have someone who can also help facilitate so if you have breakout rooms your ‘second’ can step up. In our work, our second facilitator also is responsible for the full notes and reports so the lead facilitator can focus on facilitating an awesome meeting.

- Have multiple ways to connect. I use three: my regular computer is my main connection, then my phone is my second, and then I have a backup computer just in case!

- Make sure the focus is on your facilitation. Not your background, not your dog, not your problems…but on the facilitation. That means having a great camera, an amazing backdrop or background photo, and strong handouts/presentations.


We do have a live webinar training for virtual facilitation that will prepare you to become a Certified Virtual Facilitator™ with INIFAC, and we also have an online course you can take at your own pace and on your own time! If we can help build your facilitation skills in any way, please let us know!




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