Managing Virtual Meetings

Managing virtual teams is a new challenge! It is getting more popular and more important than before. The world is becoming smaller and travels are decreasing fast. This is because many project teams can be available on the same platform today. Telephone conferences, web sessions, wiki communication platforms, etc. give the possibility to introduce project members and people from all continents.

To get familiar with this new competence, the best thing is to practice. Let’s collect our experience with virtual conferences here, collect some tips so that you can help other colleagues, who start working with virtual teams.

The big challenge is to know that there are many differences between a regular meeting and a virtual meeting. From my point of you, this is the starting point to handle the difficulties of managing virtual teams. In other words, so you can be aware what to expect!

My experience so far:

  • As a moderator you  dial in 5 min prior the call but only two or three of the participants are there on the line.

What am I going to talk with them?I didn’t meet them personally yet and I don’t see them..From which country are they coming from? How is their motivation? etc..

Tip: Say your full name every time when a participant enters to the line, greet them and ask who joined. Small talks can always help: for example weather :) And make sure that the participants list you have printed on your desk.

  • Participants are there.. Lets get started! Or??

Before you directly start with the topic, make sure all participants have solved their technical issues.

Tip: It can take more time than you expect. Not everybody has the same office/other environment. Give them time to concentrate for the session. However in the meantime, create and tell the rules for the telephone conference. For example, muting the phone, showing useful features on the platform, telling the breaks where they can place their questions etc..

  • Lets get started! With a short introduction round.

Tip: It is always better to collect a picture of all the participants before the conference and create an atmosphere like you are in a real meeting room. So all participants can imagine who is there. This way, you will make them more visible.

  • Manage the silence! Tell them what you are doing!

I experienced that this is the most challenging part! In a real meeting room people can see what you are doing at that moment and it doesn’t mean that you are busy with something else and you will not come back.

Tip: Whatever you do in these conferences you should tell them to the participants as well. I am now moving from up section to the down…, I hope you can follow now figure number 2…, I give word to my colleague now…We are now waiting for couple of minutes for other colleagues..etc.

  • Meeting continues without having an eye contact.

Tip: Having an eye contact doesn’t occur only in a presence meeting. Your participants are now on the telephone line. So why don’t you turn your face to the telephone and smile? :)

A good closing would be a simple ‘thank you’ for their participation, inform about the next steps and give word to the participants to get their feedback!

After couple of web Sessions I have faced these situations and tried to improve the quality of the conferences.

I would strongly suggest that you as a moderator or presenter establish a comfortable atmosphere and keep the participants interactive in the virtual session.

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