Mar 24, 2021
Whether it’s with a single client, a large internal team, or external stakeholders, hosting successful, engaging meetings is an art form.
It takes skill to know how to simultaneously capture attention, inform, be interactive, and leave a lasting impression — it’s really not an easy feat.
The prospect of holding a meeting may become even more stressful when the session is online. As meetings are new to the virtual world, there is no roadmap to hosting a successful one.
However, as nice as it would be, a roadmap is not always the key to success. Sometimes the key can be learning from people who have experience hosting virtual meetings and understanding what they think makes them successful. In this post, we’ll discuss common virtual meeting mistakes.
Although many people know that, an all-too-common moment in virtual meetings is pushing mistakes under the rug and acting like they haven’t happened. Unfortunately, when everyone is looking at their screen, most people notice mistakes, and ignoring them can create a sense of awkwardness.
In these moments, it’s important to remember that an increasingly virtual world is new to everyone. We’re all aware that adapting to new processes can be difficult, so of course, there will be unexpected issues.
A dysfunctional microphone or PowerPoint won’t derail your in-person meeting, but it will effectively shut down a virtual one. Plan B can include things like a designated co-host, teammate, or friend to take over if something goes wrong, or while you troubleshoot any issues: “The worst is when you have to spend time fussing with your connection and it interrupts the flow of your meeting.”
One of the greatest aspects of meetings is the collaboration and discussion that stems from audience engagement. Virtual meetings notably make this harder, and they’re often marked by the opposite. A common mistake is not making space for conversation. A solution is to make a special effort to encourage it: “It’s important to give everyone space to come off mute and contribute throughout the session. Participants can add so much value, both through discussion and the chat window feature.”
Whether your meeting is in-person or virtual, it’s crucial to be mindful of and prioritize inclusion and accessibility.
Opt to use software that adds captions for speech transcription, write alternative descriptive text of images for screen reading devices, and be mindful of the differing experiences that attendees may have. “Add pronouns to your Zoom name as a way of showing up for inclusion during virtual meetings, and encourage your teammates to do so as well.” she/hers he/his
It’s never been easier to join a meeting, and it’s also never been easier to lose focus during a meeting.
If you’re using a personal computer, it can be especially difficult to stay focused because everything you enjoy is right there in front of you. A quick check of your email can accidentally turn into ten minutes of distractions that take you away from meeting content. Mute notifications and close email.
Don’t assume that someone may be more comfortable during a virtual meeting because they’re not in front of an in-person audience. It can still be just as nerve-wracking to face a screen full of faces as it is to stare at a room full of people.
However, the support that people receive from attendees during in-person meetings, like applause, can be encouraging and make hosts feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, this support is often missing from virtual meetings.
Even if you can’t clap, Iit’s still essential to show encouragement virtually, as it can feel strange to present without any human reactions. Hop in the chat window to cheer people on and encourage them when they’re presenting. It’s encouraging and helps people feel like you’re listening.
As virtual meetings occur on a digital device, attendees have no further interaction with their peers when they end. Stamp says that forgetting about the hallway chat aspect of meetings can be detrimental, as this time often gives people a chance to network, make connections, and decompress.
You may feel pressure to display a more polished side of yourself during virtual meetings. In some cases, like when business executives speak to their teams, it makes sense and is expected that the experience is more corporate and clean cut.
However, being too polished can sometimes dehumanize you, which affects relatability between you and your audience.
Robotic meeting environments can also feel boring and disengaging, which is the opposite of what you want. Noonan’s tip is to display humanity through personalization.
Nobody wants to accidentally leave their microphone on so everyone can hear them yell to a roommate or ask a pet to stop making noise. It’s not a huge faux pas, but there are easy ways to avoid this short-lived but all-too-common mistake of not using the mute button for all that it’s worth.
Although hosting can be stressful, so engage in ice breakers to get folks interacting with each other by asking poll questions. THIS or THAT? A fun, quick, and easy way to get everyone interacting and participating.
Although there are quite a few mistakes on this list, they are exactly that — mistakes. They aren’t the end of the world, and nobody will penalize you for them.