Virtual facilitation #2: How to start your virtual meeting
Most virtual meeting systems offer a waiting room, where you can hold your participants until you are ready to begin.
It can put a lot of pressure on you to have to get straight into the substance of the meeting precisely at the advertised time. So thoughtful use of a virtual waiting room can provide a gentler start.
See my previous post on making sure your tech skills are up to scratch… Good enough tech skills – Virtual facilitation #1
Control the flow of participants entering at times that suit you. For example, you can let the early arrivals come in for an informal chat 5 minutes before the meeting proper starts. It allows you to sense the mood and even sort out simple technical problems.
Once that’s done, you can ensure a confident beginning on the topic of the day by having prepared notes – or even a script, if you prefer – for your first few lines.
If your virtual meeting is part of a series, welcome the new people and the returnees with equal enthusiasm.
And, unless this is a pure lecture, remember to get your participants involved in some way – speaking in breakout groups, or everyone joining in the plenary room if there are not too many and it won’t take up too much time. That extra degree of engagement will pay off in the attention they’ll give you for the rest of the call.
You can see examples of good practice – not necessarily perfect but facilitation demands good enough rather than perfect – here, on the Applied Improvisation Network (AIN) YouTube channel: Big Topics and Webinars.
Here are my thoughts… Online meeting etiquette – Virtual Facilitation #3
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