6 steps to Effective Virtual Meetings

Top advice
3m read
Jul 2020
Martin Boddy

Step 1- Plan your session

Don’t fall into the trap of simply treating virtual meetings in the same way you would face to face meetings.

First and foremost, virtual meetings require technology and some clients may not be confident or equipped to use it. Having overcome that, you need to understand that people engage differently over online video meeting apps. They can often be uncomfortable and/or easily distracted, so you need to “turn up your own engagement” and run the session, not just turn up to it.

Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat, says Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead. “Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” he says.

Silence is another challenge, he adds. “Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you become anxious about the technology.” It also makes people uncomfortable.

Rick Maurer, author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance and Why Don’t You Want What I Want? advises:

  • Keep the session focused on one or two topics
  • Keep each segment of the meeting short – no longer than 30 minutes

Step 2 - Help your client prepare for the session

Send them an email or better still a secure video email explaining what you want to cover and what information they will need to have to hand.

Where your client has indicated a specific topic they wish to discuss then get your client “meeting ready” by sending them a link to one of Money Alive’s highly regarded and impartial box sets.

Step 3 - Test your kit and connection

Prior to the meeting check your wi-fi connection and then join the virtual meeting a few minutes prior to its start so that you can make sure you are all set for the meeting. Common problems tend to be around the microphone being muted either by some setting in the app or on your computer. Where possible, use headphones for better quality.

Step 4 - Think like a film Director!

Consider your environment and remove distractions be that noise or visual:

  • If possible place your computer in front of a light coloured well lit wall and avoid:
  • having a window or lamp behind you as this may cause you to appear as a silhouette.
  • patterned wallpaper or pictures on the wall behind you as these can be distracting.
  • Dress appropriately avoiding for example boldly striped or patterned shirts, which do not transmit well on camera.
  • Sit forward in an upright chair so as to energize the session.
  • Don’t drink or eat during the session so that your client sees that you are giving them your full attention.

Step 5 - Verify the identity of your client and record the session

First check that your client can’t be overheard then if required follow the same verification procedure as you would if you were dealing with them over the telephone.

Record the session if possible so that you have a record of what was discussed but first ask your client’s permission.

Step 6 - Follow-up with your client after the session

As soon as the session has finished, follow-up with an email or secure video email confirming what was discussed and what actions were agreed.

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