Virtual Meetings – and how to make the most of them

Virtual Meetings – and how to make the most of them

One thing that 2020 and 2021 taught the world very well is that virtual meetings can actually work as well as face-to-face ones. Most of us have been made to think that the latter is more effective because it supposedly allows for less ambiguity as a sensory experience. As each country went into pandemic-induced lockdown, working from home became more of a norm rather than a practice of freelancers.

That being said, if we cannot escape them, how do we leverage online meetings and their advantages? In 2021, these are some of the things you can do:

  • Make use of all the features of your virtual meeting software. Most of them allows you to record proceedings, chat with other participants, sync with your digital calendar, personalize with your branding colors and company logos, and even edit documents real-time with the screen-sharing option.

  • Virtual meetings offer faster, more efficient presentations where presenters can instantly open and share webpages and documents and access byte-heavy videos and other media on cloud platforms.

  • Hold “hybrid” events where you can stay in one location with a few attendees and broadcast their proceedings to remote participants. In a time rife with health risks, this limits exposure but at the same time makes exchange of ideas faster and easier.

On the other hand, as anything online, there are downsides to virtual meetings. Here are some and how you can successfully overcome them:

  • Data Privacy & Security can be worrisome especially when there is sharing of ideas and documents during online meetings that might be stolen by hackers or even by lack of orientation on online security to participants. There too have been numerous cases where someone inadvertently wrote on meeting chat what they shouldn’t have and this was captured and shared to media or rival companies.

  • In meetings where there are multilingual participants, it is easy to get lost in translation. Many opt to have real-time interpreters or use translation software to address this. This includes sign language services for participants that have a hearing impairment.

  • Popularly called “Zoom fatigue” and often experienced by those who attend more than one meeting via online conferencing, people have reported being listless, distressed, bored and exhausted during and after virtual meetings. Host short pre-meeting meditation or energizer like a Zumba dance and post-meeting socials. Some companies host end-of-week singing contests or trivia games.

  • Keeping meeting participants engaged is a very common problem especially for those that last more than an hour. Typically, people lose interest and find something else to do, all the more when they don’t have to turn on their video cams. Keep their interest with interactive sessions via small-group discussions in breakout rooms and reporting their outputs, short quizzes and fun games, and using apps that allow real-time, multi-user editing.

  • The bane of all online meetings is technical trouble. This can run from sudden loss of internet connection, slowing down of download or upload speeds, or plain old software glitches. Assign a “tech team” with good internet connections who will focus on assisting in troubleshooting these. It is also good to send ahead documents and presentations to the team so that they can take over in flashing those in case your connections slow down. They can also assist those who are less tech-savvy.

Of course, whether online or offline, the bottom line for meeting participants is that they should come to it ready. Preparation time will still be the same for many. Slides for presentations may be done offline or on cloud but they still have to be manually prepared. Meeting invites need to be sent out and participants to be reminded of them. The key here is really just to embrace the virtual meeting as an essential component of modern communication. Let us make the most of it.