From Webinars, to virtual meetings which bring together teams scattered across a country or the globe, virtual facilitation skills are increasingly becoming an important skill set for leaders and team members alike. Chances are you have recently participated as part of a virtual meeting that was less than optimal.
This article explores seven keys for powerful virtual meetings. These seven quick items used together can be very effective in amping up your next virtual event success.
1. Engagement is key - Helping group members connect regularly with the WIIFM (What's in it for me) and engaging them in the dialogue is almost more important than it is in the in-person realm. Competition with emails and your desktop is often the reality. Keep pace moving, encourage reflection and dialogue and take the pulse regularly to see where people are at.
2. Connection is the foundation - While you might not be able to see each other feeling connected with others is an important foundation for virtual meeting success, particularly if these meetings will continue for some time.
3. Trust is Critical- Just as in the in-person environment, trust is critical. Given that we don't have the regular touchpoints where we can be "seen" building trust in the virtual environment can be even more pointed. Consider how you are building your reputation and ask what others think of you.
4. Good Design - Good design is especially important in the virtual domain. Consider what the overall blocks of the meeting or event are and how they fit together or are sequenced. More focus on process rater than less can be of benefit in the virtual domain. What are the design elements which will support the most effective virtual event? Consider breakouts, polls, use of a whiteboards, keeping it simple if technology is going to be a hindrance.
5 - Leverage technology - Use the technology you have available and which is accessible to all. I often go to the "lowest common denominator" so we are not creating any new divisions based on technology available. If you can use more interactive supports such as breakuts to engage everyone, use them. Consider what support will help you - for example, have a co-facilitator who can set up breakouts while you are facilitating. Don't try to do it all alone!
6 - Visuals are an important boost - Having a virtual anchor point, even on a phone call is important in the virtual realm. visuals can create a focus, and grounding point. If you are only meeting by phone consider sending out a one-pager prior to the call for meeting participants to download, print and use. Make sure they are provided this well enough n advance of the call.
7 - Be nimble as a facilitator - Being flexible as a facilitator in the virtual realm is essential. Expect technology to happen because it will. Have a number of "back ups" available which you can draw upon. Think through the various scenarios which may happen and how you will deal with them.
What other tips would you suggest to others who are starting out with virtual facilitator? Please feel free to comment below.
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Boost your skills as a virtual facilitator. Join us this September and October for the 15 hour Virtual Facilitation Skills Intensive training. More info and registration here. The program will be delivered on Tuesdays from 5-8 pm ET/New York on various virtual platforms over a five week period.