COVID-19 has drastically changed the way many of us are running our businesses. Within the short period of a few months, remote work is being adopted as the new work modality by businesses across all kinds of industries.
Doctors are seeing patients online through telemedicine. Law firms are consulting clients through virtual meetings. Teachers are instructing students over Zoom calls.
It seems that overnight this pandemic has catalyzed the transition of moving business operations from offline to online.
As online meetings become an integral part of a business's daily workflow, it is important to know how to run a virtual meeting efficiently. You might ask what is there to know about running a virtual meeting? You just fire up a Zoom meeting and go.
Well, there's more to that. There are many ingredients that go into running a virtual meeting successfully. It ranges from choosing the right scheduling tool, finding the most suitable videoconferencing platform, setting a virtual meeting's pacing and agenda, and to learning etiquette of virtual meetings. Let's dive into each aspect and learn about how to optimize running your virtual meetings.
Finding the right tools for your virtual meetings
When it comes to virtual meetings, there are two tools that are indispensable. One tool is a videoconferencing platform that is reliable to use for running meetings. The other tool is a scheduling tool that allows you and your guests to book meetings easily.
To find out what tools best suit you, it's important to understand what your needs are. If you are deciding on which videoconferencing tool is the right one for you, then you might want to ask yourself: Are you hosting large group webinars or workshops? Then Zoom might be the right tool for you. Do you only host one-on-one meetings with clients? Whereby might be a better option since it doesn't require users to download any apps. If you are a heavy Google user, then Google Hangouts might be the best option as it directly integrates with other Google apps.
Appointment scheduling tool
In addition to finding a reliable videoconferencing platform, you will also want a scheduling tool that automates the scheduling process and save time for you. When it comes to select the right scheduling software for your business, you will might to ask does this tool:
- integrate with the videoconferencing tool that I have picked?
- handle automatic timezone conversion if you and your guests are located in different regions?
- manually accept and decline event requests?
- automate payment collection for virtual sessions?
CozyCal was built with remote meetings in mind. Even if you have only used CozyCal to schedule in-person meetings before, it is equipped with features to help you transition meetings from offline to online.
Direct Zoom and Google Hangouts integration
Through CozyCal you can integrate directly with Zoom and Google Hangouts for scheduling. Depending on the videoconferencing platform you choose, once a guest books a meeting with you, a unique meeting link is automatically generated and shared with your guests through a calendar event and email notifications. You don't need worry about sending a link separately to booked guests. Direct integrations make the virtual meeting scheduling easier and faster.
Automatic timezone detection and conversion
If your incoming leads or clients are located in a different timezone from yours, CozyCal automatically detects timezone differences and display your availabilities as in the guest's timezone. This removes the hassle of manual timezone conversion for your guests.
Manually accept or decline event requests
It's important to make sure that appointments are booked by the right people. When your calendar is displayed publicly, it's possible that there can be spam or random bookings coming in. To solve this issue, CozyCal's event request feature allows you to manually accept or decline a pending appointment. After a guest selects a time, date and fills out the intake form, you will receive an event request notification email right away. After reviewing the guest's information, you can then decide if it's a qualified lead.
Collect payments for your virtual sessions
If you charge fees for virtual sessions, CozyCal's Stripe integration automates the payment collection process. Once Stripe is connected, you can list pricing of event types clearly on the booking page and in your preferred currency. Guests will need to make payments first before they can secure the virtual meeting time slot.
Run your meetings prepared
Whether you are running a consultation meeting, a group webinar, a fitness training session or a conference, it's important to be prepared in advance.
Test your technology
Before the meeting starts, it's always a good idea to launch your virtual room a few minutes beforehand to make sure video, audio, screen-sharing are working properly. You don't want to be late for a scheduled meeting due to technical difficulties, particularly when you are the host of a meeting. It's also important to inform your guests what video conferencing tool you are using. In CozyCal, if you are using Zoom integration, then a uniquely generated Zoom meeting link is shared with your scheduled guests so they can download Zoom's app beforehand.
Check your appearance and background
Looking good for a virtual meeting might be more important than you think. If you are hosting a meeting with new leads or clients, you want to dress up to look presentable and professional. (But if you are not presenting standing up, remaining in your pyjamas pants might be acceptable.) There are many tips for making yourself looking the best on video calls, including focus lighting on your face, avoid low angles and keep your skin healthy looking. Having a plain background free of distractions and noises work the best at focusing others' attention solely on your during the meeting.
Set a meeting agenda
Setting a meeting agenda is integral to maximize a meeting's efficiency. Lay out key objectives, a meeting structure and action items that the meeting will cover. Having a solid agenda is particularly important for large group meetings or conferences as you will need to facilitate and engage with multiple attendees. The agenda will help meeting attendees understand what they are expecting, so they can come prepared with any questions for your product or service offerings.
Etiquette of virtual meetings
While virtual meetings adhere to similar etiquette of in-person meetings, there are some additional tips that can help you to run better virtual meetings.
- Start the meeting with a mini-ice breaker to warm up the scene and make everyone feel more comfortable
- Establish virtual 'eye-contact' by staring into the camera when you are talking. It helps to engage people and encourage active listening. This tip is often overlooked because it's easy to stare at the surroundings when other meeting attendees are not physically present in the same space as you. What I do is put a sticker right next to my computer's camera to remind myself to stare at it while talking, and smile :)
- Turn off or mute notifications both on your computer and phone.
- If you have background noises going on, mute yourself if you are not talking.
- Close off unused tabs and applications that might interfere with the meeting. After all, you don't want to have a YouTube video popping up playing Drake's new hits in the middle of a demo session.
- If you plan to share your screen, get the relevant documentations or files ready for presenting beforehand.
When a virtual meeting ends, you might need to follow up depending on the context. Whether it's scheduling the next online check-in meeting with clients, asking new leads for feedback or sharing meeting recording with attendees, follow-up is an important step to keep others engaged. You could answer questions that you didn't get to address during the meeting, and also learn additional information from the follow-up communication.
During this unusual time when in-person meetings might not happen for a long time, businesses need to adapt to new changes by using technology to operate and communicate more efficiently. You might be new to host online meetings. But by following the guide above, you can streamline the process of running virtual meetings and run them smoothly.