Leading by Example As Team Leaders & Facilitators

Virtual Meeting

Planning a Virtual Meeting?

So you have been asked to facilitate a virtual meeting but you don’t know exactly where to start. We are here to help!

We discovered this checklist of questions to ask when preparing to facilitate a virtual meeting here.

Checklist

  1. What are our objectives – tangible and intangible?
  2. What would my agenda be if this were a face-to-face meeting? What is the level of participant interaction?
  3. How could each step be done virtually?
  4. Who needs to be involved at each step?
  5. What can we do asynchronously? What needs to be real-time?
  6. What technology tools might best support each step of the process? What do I have available to me?
  7. What obstacles can I anticipate? How can I address these?
  8. What role do I need the client or sponsor to play?
  9. How can I best prepare participants?
  10. How much time will it take me to coordinate this meeting / series of meetings?
  11. What additional help do I need?
  12. Will this virtual process meet our objectives? What might I need to renegotiate?

Let’s go over each item on the list separately and outline actionable steps to take.

  1. What are our objectives – tangible and intangible?

The first step is to outline your goals for your virtual meeting. These must be clearly defined and broken into small steps. Write down what you want to accomplish during the meeting and organize how each goal will be accomplished.

  1. What would my agenda be if this were a face-to-face meeting? What is the level of participant interaction?

Imagine that the gathering was not a virtual meeting. Imagine you are planning the meeting just like you would a face-to-face meeting. Outline all of the things that would need to happen in order to accomplish the goals. Note the things that would normally require physical interaction, if any. The level of participant interaction will help you decide which tools to use in your virtual meeting. If there are any visuals necessary then they will need to be placed in an online format.

  1. How could each step be done virtually?

There may be some steps in your plan that are usually done physically. It is time to get creative with this to keep the fullness of experience in an online setting. For example, what would usually be written on a whiteboard, could be written on a slideshow and added to as the meeting goes on. Most online meeting platforms will give you access to this feature. Do your research on virtual meeting software beforehand.

  1. Who needs to be involved at each step?

Make sure you outline who needs to be involved with each task. This will save everyone time and money. If needed, you can start the meeting earlier with the people who need to be involved in more parts than others. You can also require those people to stay later instead. It might also be a good idea to break your virtual meeting into a couple of small group meetings. There are virtual meeting services that offer conversational breakout opportunities.

  1. What can we do asynchronously? What needs to be real-time?

Make sure you do your best to get the timing of things correct. Some steps may need to be completed before others. Some people may need to do some preparation for the meeting. Save time during the meeting by only going over what is necessary and let the people complete their tasks outside the meeting time.

  1. What technology tools might best support each step of the process? What do I have available to me?

There are so many tools out there for online collaboration. Make sure you do your research and have these tools available to everyone at least a few days before so the meeting is as productive and organized as possible.

  1. What obstacles can I anticipate? How can I address these?

This is important when designing a virtual meeting. You may have something, such as an activity, planned and are not sure if it will work out. If you are trying something new, make sure you have a backup plan. For example, if you are trying a new software such as an online whiteboard, then make sure to have some plan B’s if the software fails. This could come in the form of a Google Document that everyone has access to and can be edited in real time, or a screenshare of a document that you can write on for everyone to see.

  1. What role do I need the client or sponsor to play?

When someone hires you to facilitate an online meeting, you need to make sure your suggested goals are in line with theirs. You are the facilitator, yet you most likely need them to play a role in the online meeting as well. Clearly define this role with them to avoid miscommunications.

  1. How can I best prepare participants?

It might be a good idea to share your virtual meeting itinerary with your participants in order to give them a brief understanding of what will take place. This way they can be prepared with any questions or contributions they may have.

  1. How much time will it take me to coordinate this meeting / series of meetings?

After putting together your outline, it is time to allot time to each question. Play a mock meeting in your head while a timer is on in order to make an estimate. It is optimal to have a detailed agenda and imperative to have a ‘dress rehearsal’ with your team before the actual session.

  1. What additional help do I need?

If you need help from outside sources then make sure to organize this prior to the meeting.

  1. Will this virtual process meet our objectives? What do I need to renegotiate?

There are some things that you will not be sure about when planning your meeting. When the meeting is over, go back over your objectives and reevaluate your progress towards your goals. You may need to schedule a follow up meeting to accomplish these goals.

 

Very best wishes for your every success,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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