After the COVID-19 pandemic brought us social distancing regulations and company travel restrictions, virtual meetings and calls became the norm. When it’s your turn to host the meeting, you want to be prepared, just as you would be if the meeting were face to face. Consider these tips for effectively leading virtual meetings, so they run smoothly and are productive.

1. Create a Plan

One of the first things you should do when scheduling a meeting is collaborate with your team regarding the meeting content. Create a plan indicating who is responsible for putting together necessary materials including slides and reports. Discuss any deadlines and give yourself some extra time to practice with the finalized meeting materials. Your team may also want to consider what the meeting follow-up will look like and what will be provided to attendees. Thinking of all these aspects ahead of time will help your team be prepared and will ensure that you are all on the same page.

2. Test Your Technology

Before the meeting, make sure that you are familiar with the video platform and its features. Not only will this help with your execution during the real meeting, it’ll also help you quickly troubleshoot any issues that your meeting attendees may have during the meeting. You may want to consider items like dial-in options, screen sharing abilities  and hand-raising features. This information should be provided to meeting attendees ahead of time so that they are prepared when it’s time for the event.

3. Assign a Facilitator

One of the challenges of virtual meetings is the difficulty for collaborative discussions to take place. Attendees are often muted during presentations to prevent background noise and may not feel comfortable speaking up while someone else is talking. Assigning a facilitator to help spark discussions and move the meeting along will help your meeting be more effective overall. The facilitator can also help introduce the presenters, share their screen to feature important documents and field questions as needed.

4. Stick to Meeting Basics

Despite that there are distinct differences between online and in-person meetings, you’ll want to follow conventional meeting practices throughout your virtual meeting. Utilize an agenda, provide meeting materials to attendees and take breaks if necessary. Consider a meeting ice breaker to start off the virtual meeting and get people comfortable using the software. You’ll also want to be mindful of the other attendees time by minimizing the presentation portion of the meeting and maximizing times for collaboration and discussion.

5. Establish a Structure

Establishing the meeting structure can also help with increased participation and engagement. Consider how people can interject and ask questions. Will they use a hand-raising feature on the video software or enter their questions into the chat? By setting the expectations of participants, it makes it clear how they can offer their opinions and contribute to the meeting.

6. Get Others Involved

As previously mentioned, it’s easy for individuals to remain quiet during a virtual meeting. To increase collaboration and keep everyone engaged, it is a good idea to ask questions to the group or to specific individuals throughout the video call. You may also want to start the meeting by addressing everyone individually who is on the call, giving time for small talk before getting into the meeting topics. Again, this is a good item for the facilitator to monitor throughout the meeting. The more interactive you make the virtual meeting, the more attendees will feel engaged and connected to each other. 

7. Capture Feedback From Everyone

Following the meeting, it’s a good idea to capture feedback from everyone involved, including attendees and individuals on your team. You may want to consider sending out a brief survey or open ended questions about the virtual meeting to gather insights into what went well and what could’ve been better. A retrospective meeting with your team can also provide valuable information and discussions. Capturing all of this information now can help you run your next virtual meeting more effectively in the future.

8. Follow-Up

Depending on the intention of your meeting, you may want to follow up with meeting attendees. This could include meeting notes, next step information, and/or meeting materials such as a recording or presentation slides. Creating and executing a follow up plan can make your meeting effective beyond just the meeting content.

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The impact of COVID-19 and current social distancing regulations are changing the world of work. With an increased need for employees to work from home, many organizations are utilizing video chatting platforms to conduct virtual interviews with job candidates. “We are seeing clients utilize video interviewing technology throughout the entire hiring process from initial phone screen to final interview”, says Gabrielle Christman, President & CEO of Hunter International, a STEM-focused Workforce Solutions Partner. “Candidates should adequately prepare ahead of time for their video interview to be successful and stand out to hiring managers.” Consider these tips from our team of hiring experts to put your best foot forward in your next video interview.

1. Get Your Technology in Order

To adequately prepare for a video interview, we recommend that you start by making sure that you have the right equipment to participate in the virtual meeting. Oftentimes, you’ll need working internet, a camera and a microphone. If these aren’t available to you, consider borrowing from a friend or seeing if your local library has an equipment rental program. You also should find out what platform the video interview will be held on such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype. You might want to consider doing a test-run so that you feel comfortable using the platform. Familiarize yourself with the software and tools needed for the virtual meeting so that you are comfortable and prepared when it’s time for the real thing.

2. Set The Scene

Next, you should consider the environment for your video chat. We recommend utilizing a quiet space that will be free from distractions. People walking around or a loud television in the background can make it more difficult for both you and your interviewer to focus on the opportunity being discussed. Lighting is also an important aspect of a video interview. “Shadows or bright light might blur you out and make it more difficult for the interviewer to see you and focus during the interview,” says Christman. “If you can, utilize windows or lamps to help balance out the lighting in the space.” Creating a distraction-free, well-lit space will enable you to shine to your potential employer and keep you on-track during the meeting.

3. Personalize Where You Can

An often overlooked, unique advantage of video interviews is that candidates can be more creative in expressing themselves. Consider keeping some meaningful objects close by that you can show off or include in the background that tell your story. “Let your backdrop show your personality. Do you play guitar? Are you an avid traveler? Don’t shy away from dropping hints that you have interests outside of work,” advises Christman. Some other items to consider including in the background are industry-specific books, certifications or examples of your work. Overall, some personalization where appropriate will help your interviewer learn more about who you are and what you’re passionate about.

4. Treat The Meeting Like an In-Person Interview

Though there are a few differences between a video interview and an in-person interview, the overall purpose of the meeting remains the same. You should prepare just as you would for a face-to-face interview. Among other things, we recommend dressing professionally, writing down some thoughtful questions and doing your research about the organization and position ahead of time.

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