by Pat Hammond on Monday, September 21, 2020
One of the things we all love about NH Business Guild's bi-weekly networking group is the flexibility.
Even though we try to limit members to one person per industry, we don't require everyone to show up for every meeting.
We get it. We're all entrepreneurs, and sometimes it's just not feasible to fit a midday meeting in your schedule. There are weeks when Lisa, Daryl and I can't make meetings either. But, and you knew there would be a but, we ask that you follow a few guidelines when you do come.
Today, I'm sharing five simple tips to help make our virtual meetings as successful as our in-person meetings.
1. Be on time
We all understand that you're busy, but it's disrespectful to other group members and guests who have taken time out of their busy days to join us. When we met in person, meetings start at noon and guest speakers and presentations usually start at 12:15 PM. Nothing has changed now that we're virtual.
It's very difficult to organize an event when people pop in 20, 30, or 40 minutes late. We've tried to have guests and speakers come in to share their expertise, but had to reschedule or cancel because there wasn't enough time left by the time people showed up.
If you find you're running late, please be sure to mute your mic when you login. We're all excited to see you, but you may interrupt a conversation or presentation in progress when you pop up on screen and start talking.
2. Be mindful of your surroundings
This hasn't been much of a problem for us, but I've seen other virtual meetings where things happening in the background have been disruptive. Dogs, roommates, and spouses doing things in the background can be very distracting for other people on the call. A quiet space with a closed door is an easy solution, but if you are sharing space try to be aware of what is going on around you so you can minimize background distractions.
Along the sames line, think about using headphones to cut down on distracting background noises. The conference rooms at my office are almost soundproof, but working from home is a nightmare of competing lawn mowers and leaf blowers. It's the primary reason I almost always wear headphones.
3. Don't multitask
I know it's tempting to make or take calls while you're on Zoom, but don't do it. If we were meeting at the office and you received a call you had to take, you would excuse yourself and step outside. A virtual meeting is no different. If it's something that can't wait, turn off your audio and video streams before taking the other call.
And yes, I realize I often look distracted during our meetings, but that can't be helped. I need to monitor chat, texts, and email from participants, which means I am scanning multiple screens and devices while listening to the meeting conversation. Which brings me to the next item on our list.
4. Use Zoom's meeting tools
It would be much easier for the host, presenters, and participants, if we could all start using chat and/or the raise-your-hand feature instead of interrupting. For some unknown reason Zoom doesn't give the host access to raise-your-hand, but everyone else has this option. If you need to speak to another participant, try direct chat. If that doesn't give you enough scope you can send a chat message to me or whoever is hosting and request a private room.
I didn't think we had too many problems with flow or interruptions, but I've had a couple people complain so from now on I'm asking everyone to use these tools when they want to ask a question or bring up a point.
5. Be prepared
Make sure you have any files or links you need to share with the group queued up and keep them on hand after you share them.
One limitation of Zoom's chat feature is that people who log in to a call after you've posted a comment or link can't see it. So if you have an important link to share you may have to update chat two or three times depending on how many people arrive late.
So that's it. Nothing Draconian, just five simple things we can all do with minimal effort to make our Zoom meetings better for everyone.