What You Need to Know
- Food can be one enemy.
- Rambling is another enemy.
- Watch out for tics.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to keep attendees paying attention when you’re leading a virtual meeting.
Heck, you might be in a virtual meeting now.
Webinars, networking events, client meetings, and even classroom discussions (most students are taking classes virtually ) can be delivered more effectively if you take some time to prepare.
Last week, I was teaching my Monday night public speaking class virtually for Rutgers University and one of the students had no problem sipping a bottle of beer during class. And yes, I called him out about it in front of everyone by making a joke.
In a networking event that I lead, one of the members, a financial advisor, was eating a big bowl of pasta and yawning in between bites. Right into the camera! Luckily, she was on mute, because I couldn’t even imagine the noise she was making. I’m not sure if that behavior will win her any professionalism points or referred business.
These are just two stories from the files of you can’t make this stuff up.
The fact is you may never eliminate multitasking, eating, drinking, sleeping, driving, walking the dog, yawning, and the kids finding their way into the meeting, but you can minimize those distractions.
Here are some suggestions.
1. Be welcoming and engaging in the beginning.
It’s a lot of fun saying hello to attendees as they log into the meeting. I love calling people by name (if Zoom or the platform you’re using is set up that way), welcoming them to the meeting, asking where they are, what they do, and what they want from the meeting. I love making comments about people’s names, virtual backgrounds, actual backgrounds, and any other back story or type of rapport I can develop with them.
2. Set expectations upfront.
Now that you have welcomed everyone to the meeting and established a sense of “collaboration”, it’s time to set the tone of the meeting. I will speak to a slide called Expectations and How to Get the Most from the Meeting. Some of the expectations include have a beverage on hand (in most cases, not beer), avoid eating, keep your camera on (depending on the audience), take notes, ask questions by raising a hand or posting in the chat box, be open, be interactive, focus on applying one new idea, and eliminate multitasking, if possible. In fact, I’ll share a personal story about how I would have missed out on an idea shared from someone else’s webinar had I been focused on email. Then I get right into my material.