How to Facilitate an Online Meeting Like a Pro

Monday, August 31, 2020

By Jaclyn Taylor, Coordinator, Employee Development 

Like many of you, the Employee Development team has been focused on delivering relevant content within this virtual world. As we have learned new platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, we have gathered a list of our pro tips that assist in making virtual sessions as seamless as possible.

1. Use your slides as visual cues.
Do you keep forgetting to record your session? Add in a slide for that. Using a poll? Add a slide for that, too. These visual cues not only let the audience know what is going on, but serve as helpful reminders for you and your production team as well.

2. Treat the chat as public.
Yes, private chat is available within Zoom. However, due to Florida’s Sunshine Laws, anything we type in there is eligible to be pulled for reference at a later date. Participants may not realize this and use the private chat as their own form of text message. Remind them at the beginning of the session that the chat is public.

3. Allow for “Anonymous” contributions.
Want to give the audience a chance to contribute without the rest of the session knowing who they are? Suggest they private chat the facilitator or one of the producers of the session. Yes, this is still subject to Sunshine Laws, but it is a great way for employees to ask questions without feeling embarrassed.

4. Internet lagging? Turn off your video.
The technical piece of how we all keep going in this virtual world is complex so, let’s keep it simple: video uses more bandwidth. If you are experiencing an unstable network connection, turn off your video. This should allow you to continue to speak, and even share your screen, without causing further issues.

5. Set up your hardware for success.
If you are able, hardwire your device to the internet to ensure the best possible internet connection.

Do you have a headset with a microphone? This will help give your audience the best chance of hearing clear audio while you speak.

If possible, use multiple monitors to facilitate. Multiple monitors will help you see all the various windows you may need to access during your presentation (i.e. chat, participant management, PowerPoint, etc.)

6. Use the waiting room.
Have multiple facilitators that will be joining you and need a few minutes before the session to finalize details? The waiting room is your best friend! Open the session about 30 minutes before the start time, and allow any working parties into the main room. Everyone else can stay in the waiting room until it is time for the session to begin. You can even message those in the waiting room to let them know of any updates or delays.

7. When in doubt, use a producer.
If you have any doubts about being able to manage the entire session on your own, ease your own worries and ask a colleague to act as your session producer. This person can share his or her screen, monitor the chat, run the breakout rooms, etc. The producer is your eyes and ears within the audience and can be the difference between a good session and a great one.

For more facilitator pro tips directly from Zoom, check out Zoom’s Online Event Best Practices.

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