Recently I facilitated an online session about how to get better at online meetings for Lightful in the UK where I am a Senior Advisor at Lightful, among other activities, facilitate online master classes for their BRIDGE programme.
Here’s an overview the tips and resources I shared.
Don’t wing it alone
It’s easy to wing meetings with no formalised planning or an agenda. According to Beth, a good meeting is based on good design. You can plan the topics, the minutes you allocate on each topic, the speakers but also the roles for each attendee (facilitator, tech steward, note-taker, etc).
An online meeting is more effective when you have at least two facilitators. This makes it easier to focus on the content while handling additional questions, troubleshooting and technical problems.
Embrace new workplace norms for meetings
We need to embrace the new workplace norms. It’s hard juggling parenting with work and you need to acknowledge it.
Children (and pets) are welcome
We all need to be more understanding of the new norm. Children and pets can be welcome in your meeting if needed.
Encourage being on camera
We are not used to seeing ourselves on camera. And it can be exhausting staring at a screen most of the day. But it can also help you feel closer to your colleagues when attending a meeting. If you want to look better on camera, you can raise the level of the laptop or use a light close to you!
Use Zoom backgrounds if you want to hide your messy house
Zoom backgrounds have become very popular lately. It’s a quick way to hide your background but also to have fun with your colleagues when picking a background. Canva have even introduced a template to create your own Zoom backgrounds now! Reminder: when you are not using it anymore, make sure you change the settings.
Use ice breakers and energizers
Ice breakers and energizers are helpful to check in with your colleagues or even to share optimism and fun. You can find out more about them in this blog post on virtual meetings and check-ins during a pandemic. You can also check a few ice breakers and energizers on our video recording of the session.
Just say no when you have too many meetings without a break
Try to avoid a busy calendar with too many calls. Aim for a break after 60-90 minutes of a call. It’s helping you to stay focused while avoiding the so-called “Zoom overload”. If you need to have a longer meeting, consider splitting it into two meetings instead.
Use Zoom breakout rooms
Breakout rooms are a feature in Zoom that allows you to put people in smaller rooms for more intimate conversations. They can be very useful when you want to have an icebreaker, brainstorming, decision-making, etc. We’ve modeled them as part of the session and it allowed us to brainstorm in smaller teams on how to be more engaging in our meetings from now on.
Here is a list of resources for nonprofits to get better at online meetings:
Virtual Meetings: General Tips
- It’s Time for Next Generation Virtual Collaboration by Civicist – tips for online collaboration
- Show & Tell: Remote Work Tips for Collaboration and Generosity (via Edith Asibey & Jamie Lonie)
- Icebreakers for a Pandemic: Some ideas to help inspire people to keep optimistic and check-in about their feelings
- Icebreakers: Stoke Deck: A collection of warm-up activities designed to boost energy, build connection, foster empathy, support collaboration, and cultivate creativity
- Icebreakers for Teams Collection Select from over 300 icebreakers based on how well the group knows each other.
Interactive Meeting Techniques
- How To Use Zoom Breakout Rooms by Beth Kanter
- Sticky Dot Voting Online by Beth Kanter
- The Art of Facilitating with Virtual Sticky Notes by Beth Kanter
- Effective Brainstorming Techniques by Beth Kanter
- List of Energizers
Planning and Design
- A Crash Course in Translating Your Meeting Process to a Virtual Setting
- What You Need to Know about Hosting Effective Virtual Meetings a free ebook from boardable.
- It’s Time To Get Good At Virtual Meetings by Spitfire
Virtual Board Meetings
- Boardable offers 90 days free online board management software for nonprofits
- Effective and Engaging Virtual Board Meetings-What You Need to Know
Virtual Socializing in the Workplace
- Staff Birthday Party at the Packard Foundation
- Staff Happy Hour: TechSoup
- Virtual Happy Hours – How-To
- Creating Connection in a Time of Covid-19 – interview with Nancy White
Virtual Meeting Tools
- Virtual Conference/Meeting Software Comparison spreadsheet comparison of different platforms from Giving Tuesday
- 111 Tools To Get You Through Pandemic
- Robin Good’s Mega List of Online Collaboration Tools
Zoom Tips and Tricks
- Super Easy Guide to Zoom (Visual and Fun PDF)
- Zoom Security Issues & Fixes
- Advanced Zoom Tips (Grove Consulting)
- Example of Reminder Letter (Susan Partnow)
- Fun Zoom Backgrounds
- Custom Zoom Backgrounds (Paid Service)
- Canva – Zoom Backgrounds & Templates (1280×720 px)
- More Fun Zoom Backgrounds
- How To Look Good on Camera (NY Times)
- How To Use Zoom Breakout Rooms (Beth Kanter)