How To Run An Effective Zoom Meeting
By now, every business person has been on virtual meetings.
We’ve all been on Zoom calls that are effective, and the ones that have no direction, no structure, and are riddled with small aggressors like poor lighting and bad camera quality.
It’s not a fun place to be. It is not good for business. And, if you’re like most of us, you were probably counting down the minutes until you could log off and forget all about it.
As the host of a Zoom meeting, leaving your attendees with this feeling is the worst possible outcome. You want your meetings to be good for your business (or your charity, group or association) to hold everyone’s attention and, hopefully, accomplish everyone’s goals.
We’ve put together our top tips to hosting the most engaging, interactive and informative Zoom meeting that your attendees have ever seen.
1. Lead by Example
Strong and reliable WiFi is critical for the meeting host. If the host has a bad or intermittent signal, the meeting immediately grinds to a halt, or gets dropped entirely. If the host has any history of internet access issues she/he should assign a co-host who can jump in if there are problems.
It’s imperative that the host get the basic essentials of a virtual meeting covered off to set a good example. This includes quality lighting, a quality webcam, and good audio. If you are leading a group it is valuable to get a custom background and green screen (if required). We hosted a webinar about how to use video for business, and one of the panelists Emmy Award-winning producer Madeleine Pollack shared tips for setting up Zoom cameras, lighting, sound make-up etc. Her section starts at 1:08 of the video.
The leader should also familiarize her/himself with using the Zoom platform, and all of its intricacies, prior to hosting an official meeting. Practice looking into the webcam directly, speaking slowly and clearly, and interacting with virtual backgrounds. Know how to mute and unmute members to manage external sounds, how to create breakout groups and run presentations. If you can practice with a trusted colleague, friend or family member on the other end of your call, you should!
2. Become a Zoom Ninja Leader
A few of the best Zoom Leaders I have encountered get everyone engaged and familiar with the technology right at the start of meetings. Dan Nathanson from Sold By The Bros welcomes everyone and has a PowerPoint Slide for each speaker with a time built into the slides. Mo ElDeiry starts each meeting asking everyone to say one word to reflect their mood and then post that word into the chat. This is a masterful way to get everyone involved, test their microphones and get them familiar with the chat function. Lisa Peddy warmly greets everyone to the meetings as they arrive making everyone feel welcome and special.
3. Send your agenda in advance
If you’re going to attend any kind of event, virtual or in-person, you want to know what to expect.
Hosts should always send an agenda in advance, covering timing, discussion points and topics of importance. This will not only help keep you on track, allow speakers or presenters to prepare, and it will let your attendees know what to expect, and when.
In return, your attendees will be more engaged and on-track as you move through the points of the agenda.
4. Add some fun and breaks
If your meetings are enjoyable, attendance will be better and you will get more done. Adding a quick, appropriate social aspect to meetings makes it more personal and breaks the monotony of working remotely. Appropriate jokes, polls, sharing topics such as what you’re streaming on tv or favorite recipes or restaurants to order from can lighten the mood and create bonding.
Even though your event may be online, people still need time to take bathroom breaks or grab a cup of coffee. It may be tempting to knock out a meeting, seminar or event in one sitting, but your audience will be less engaged, more distracted and may even log off early if they’re trapped in an endless cycle of information. If your company has back-to-back meetings, it is helpful to schedule meetings for 50 minutes to allow people to catch their breath in between and avoid meetings (and Zoom log-ins) constantly running over and into each other.
If your agenda is over 1 hour, plan short, five-minute breaks where attendees can re-situate themselves and prepare for the next topic or section. Let your attendees know at the beginning of the call when these breaks will be, and what time they should return to the call from each.
5. Implement breakout groups
Breakout groups are the hidden gem of Zoom meetings.
If you have yet to implement this tool, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for networking for the audience and speakers! Many people will say they learn more at the networking portion of meetings and events than in formal sessions. People love to talk, catch up and ‘schmooze’! When 20 people are waiting for a meeting to start and 1 person is speaking, 20 people are frustrated.
Breakout groups are conversation pods that allow smaller groups of attendees within your Zoom meeting to have discussions, share feedback and work through problems together. The concept is based on breakout rooms in traditional conferences that allow attendees to brainstorm in a smaller, more intimate setting.
As the host, you can choose which attendees are placed in which rooms. You can also “pop in” to rooms at your discretion to check attendees’ progress, offer suggestions, or chat for a bit. Once you’re ready to continue the larger seminar or conversation, simply end the breakout portion of the Zoom call and invite your attendees back into the general meeting space.
6. Prepare for the worst
Technical glitches can be detrimental if they occur during an important Zoom meeting or presentation. Because you can never predict a random power outage, WiFi shortage or other unforeseen circumstance, you should always prepare. IN a worst case scenario, you can always log into a meeting with a cell phone.
Assign a co-host to your meeting on the off chance that some technical glitch occurs and you are unable to lead. If the meeting requires a recording, make sure you and your co-host are both recording on your individual devices. Prepare them to take over the meeting until you are able to regain access.
These five steps are essential for every host to implement during any Zoom webinar. They will make for a better, more engaged audience that actually listens to what you have to say and interacts with the other attendees rather than putting the webinar on mute and going about their business while it plays in the background.
While we may not be working remotely forever, Zoom and similar technology is here to stay. It’s ease of use, accessibility, affordability and flexible options make it an efficient way to host meetings and connect with colleagues from further away. If you’re not yet familiar with Zoom, you should make it a top priority to learn the platform. As far as we can tell, it isn’t going anywhere.