Leading Successful Virtual/Video Meetings

If you're like me you've suddenly had to move many of your meetings to virtual/video meetings, with your own team, your suppliers or customers. The current crisis requires that we be at the top of our leadership communications game, yet virtual/video communications are notoriously challenging.


I've compiled a concise list of tips for leading a successful virtual/video meeting based on best practice research I did this week plus my own experience leading two Vistage CEO peer group meetings, interviews, and one-on-one executive coaching sessions.


If you find this helpful please share with your teams and any others you know who may benefit.


If you would like more resources to help you through this time let me know. I have set up a daily "virtual open office hour" for CEOs and senior execs to share questions, challenges and solution ideas. This is no time to go it alone as a leader.


Best,

Scott

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Leading Successful Virtual/Video Meetings

Preparation:

Treat the meeting as important as if it were an in-person meeting

  • Preparation is even more important when virtual/video

  • Send agenda ahead of time

  • All materials sent ahead of time, not during meeting

  • Anticipate things that could go wrong

  • Take 20 minutes to do test runs of connection – call someone and try it out, ask if they can hear you and if a delay or lag

  • Good audio is a necessity. Use headset with mic if others are around you – put mic close to mouth

  • Tell your family (if at home) that they are most important to you, not this call; but ask for their help with quietness, no interruptions

Dress

  • Keep with solid jewel tone colors – will liven it up

  • - Avoid patterns

Camera

  • Camera elevated to eye level, not looking up at you

  • If screen too low, appear slumped over

  • Move camera back so people see not just your face but upper body

  • Test how you look ahead of time

Lighting

  • Face the light

  • Best light is natural light

  • If sun shining in, use blinds but open slightly so still get glow

  • Make sure light never behind you

Background is important – don’t let it be distracting


During the meeting:

Body posture can exude confidence

  • Sit on front of chair, not back, back straight, lean forward slightly, shoulders down so shows relaxed, opens diaphragm

- Sitting back will appear slumped, not alert

- - When speak up, scoot forward – will help boost voice so heard


Two Types of Meetings:

  1. Informal meeting – equal members in group

- Ok to look at screen instead of at camera

2. Making a presentation and you’re the only one speaking

- Present while looking at camera lens – will show presence and authority, appears more engaging


  • Acknowledge to the team there will be a higher level of distraction

  • Acknowledge not the same experience

  • Acknowledge that will be some awkwardness in speaking over one other, or pauses

  • Encourage everyone who speaks up to state their name, to show respect, if others can’t see them

  • Make sure you as the leader introduce yourself (lead by example) – shows authority and leadership

  • Good eye contact is one of easiest ways to increase leadership presence


State Ground Rules (and email this as part of the agenda ahead of time):

  • Find a quiet room and close door

  • Minimize outside distraction

  • Mute self when not talking if you have background noise

  • Make sure phone on silent

  • Don’t plan to check emails during meeting

  • Wait for a pause to speak up – don’t speak over others


Assign members roles and show as a visual

Keep the meeting more engaging by:

  • Encourage everyone to speak up – watch their faces and ask them when they appear disengaged

  • If a large group, ask them to use the software hand raising feature. If a smaller group they can just waive their hand if they want to ask a question or jump into the conversation.

  • When discussion starts to go off topic – be faster to reel it in. It’s even more important on video – people can’t look at me to send me a signal

  • As leader use hand signals intentionally:

- Share with them ahead of time what your hand signals will mean. Example: Waiving hand means stop talking

- Be aware of unintentional use of hands - will detract

- Assume audience will see everything you do

- Use hands to emphasize points :

- Push forward to emphasize statements

- Fingers emphasize numbers

- Open hands to emphasize conversation or ideas

- Don’t point at camera

  • Don’t sit with folded arms – can come off as disengaged

  • As the leader address others by name (you can’t turn your body to them) so they know you’re addressing them directly

  • As the leader, have transition questions ready when people stop talking

- Direct questions to people who are qualified to speak on the topic

  • As leader don’t spend time doing browser switching – focus on camera all the time

  • Be more animated than normal

  • A video meeting is an opportunity to use visuals to their fullest to make meeting memorable

  • Use shared screen feature to show pictures, video, visual of notes

  • Have something physical thing to show to drive home your points

  • If use Powerpoint Keep it at a high level. Otherwise there is a high risk of losing your audience.

  • Consider using a whiteboard instead (either the software whiteboard or even a physical whiteboard

Ask audience to post question or thoughts on chat and address

Have a note taker – announce at beginning, and that the notetaker will send them to everyone afterwards

End session by asking if anyone has any questions

If recording conference – make sure announce at beginning

Ask for feedback


This isn’t an exhaustive list but are points that I found helpful this week.

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Scott Thurber

5600 Post Road

#114-175

East Greenwich, RI  02818

©2020 Scott Thurber