2020: Welcome to a planet in quarantine (aka Corona pandemic). Around the world, live meetings are out, digital is in. Whether you use Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts or Facetime (to name, but a few), the principles for online meeting success remain amazingly consistent when you follow a few basic steps.
In the past few months, people have asked me to share tips on how to run good online workshops and meetings. It turns out I have quite some experience with that, so, here’s my personal shortlist of take-aways. No particular order. They work.
1. Create your video studio
- Create a professional or plain background behind you for every videoconference
- Install adequate lighting and a decent microphone (most earbuds work fine)
2. Dress for success (at least the parts visible onscreen)
- Dress for the day
- Your morning prep routine determines your mindset for the day. Don’t join conference calls in bed in your pajamas (even though it’s tempting …)
- Brush your teeth
3. Do a dry run
- Be sure the system works. Technical complications mean trouble
- Do the slides work? The sound? Are pictures in the presentation compressed to reduce file size and bandwidth, thus reducing the risk of freezing or unresponsive connections?
4. Turn off
- Call on people
- Don’t go more than five minutes without asking a question — even if you just ask participants to write quick answers in a chat box. This gets people’s thoughts going
- When you do want an answer, call on someone specific. Then people will have to pay attention. They don’t want to be the person who fumbles, isn’t ready to unmute or missed the question
6. Be crisp
- What’s true for a live presentation is doubly true for a presentation online. Keep your messages brisk
- Use short sentences
- Use the power of 3 (bullet points per slide)
- Shorten the session. A two-hour live workshop equals a 60-minute online version. Live events consist of 50% non-verbal and only-social interaction. Not so relevant in the online version
- Compress your content, and people leave hungry for more, motivated to do assignments afterwards
- Nothing is worse than a dull monotone voice, reading the bullets on a screen
- Play with the tone and pitch of your voice, change your speech rhythm, throw in a silly joke — whatever works with your personality
- The key is to be a little unpredictable
If you’re looking for an individual 2-hour coaching session of how to better communicate in online meetings, contact danibu.