In this new environment, it’s likely that none of you reading this are holding traditional meetings any longer. Gone are the days (temporarily) where large groups of people would gather in conference rooms or at restaurants to present ideas, brainstorm, or create goals. You probably aren’t even holding small one-on-one meetings with clients, mentors, or colleagues for the time being.

Though this can certainly be a challenge, it can also present an opportunity. If you have the correct mindset, you can use this time of social distancing to your advantage. To do this, however, you need to master the fine art of virtual meetings. You can still stay in touch with all those who help your business grow during this time by holding effective virtual meetings from the comfort of your office or home. Here are some tips on how to make them work.

Master the Program

If you’re holding numerous virtual meetings – and who isn’t these days? – you need to use a program that you’ve mastered. Zoom and Microsoft Teams are both popular options, but choose the one that works best for you and that is accessible to those you meet with. If you’re constantly dealing with technical issues or wasting time looking for different options, you’re not focused on conducting an effective meeting.

Do Introductions

Unless you’re meeting with a group of people who already know each other and meet on a regular basis, reserve the first five minutes or so of your meetings to do introductions. Depending on the purpose of your meeting, you can have each person add a comment to their introduction such as a connection that would be helpful for them, a tip they’ve recently learned, or something else that would be good for the group.

Have an Agenda

It’s just as easy for a virtual meeting to go off the rails as it is for one that meets in person. That’s why an agenda is imperative. Agendas work especially well if you email them out ahead of time so that all attendees know what to expect. If you mail it out at least a day in advance, you can also solicit feedback on topics your attendees may like to reserve time to discuss.

Treat it Like You’re Filming a Video

Just because you’re running the meeting from your home doesn’t mean you can be less professional. I always treat video meetings the same as if I were shooting a professional video. This means dressing well, being enthusiastic, and looking at the camera so I can make ‘eye contact’ with others and engage them. When I conduct video meetings, I also use my stand-up desk because I feel it allows me to be more energetic and expressive.

Set Ground Rules

Make sure those involved in the meeting know the basic ground rules you’re setting. For instance, you may decide to mute everyone who is not speaking to limit the background noise of those who are co-working from home with a family or who are in other busy environments. You may also want to set time limits for how much time each attendee has to speak and how interruptions and questions should be handled.

Engage Your Attendees

None of your video meetings, no matter how large or small, should be all about you. If you’re not engaging your attendees by asking questions, encouraging feedback, and prompting discussion, you’re not making an impact. While this can be easy with those you’re already familiar with, it can be more difficult if you’re meeting with others for the first time. In these situations, consider sending some questions over before the meeting so you can learn more about their background and what they want to achieve during the meeting.

Virtual meetings can be just effective as those held in-person if they’re done correctly. Need more help learning how to hold effective virtual meetings? Check out my coaching program for entrepreneurial advisors or leave a question or comment below.