#1. Select a virtual conference tool that will work for your needs. Consider the cost, features (video, recording, screen sharing), ease of use and fit for your meeting types (e.g. the number of participants). Most popular methods:
Zoom, Easy to set up, 100 participants, Free account allows 40 minute meeting time, Pro subscription $14.99 + tax.
Microsoft Teams, Chat-based, provides simple mobile audio and video calling, Free.
Google Hangout, Allows up to 25 participants in video call, easy to use, Free.
GoToMeeting – Great for online webinars, Free 14 day trial
#2. Use video. Right now, as we are more isolated, we are craving human interaction. Video encourages increased engagement and makes the meeting feel more collaborative.
#3. Optimize your audio. Consider using a headset to limit background noise. Ask everyone to mute unless speaking to reduce background noise. For large meetings or events, the organizer can ideally mute all participants beyond speakers. Use the hand raise or chat features to facilitate questions easily.
#4. Take advantage of the medium. Use features such as screen share to view information together or present. If the session is collaborative, consider capturing notes in real-time on-screen. Use the record feature so that you can send the recording out to those who couldn’t attend.
#5. Make sure your meeting is secure. Never post the meeting ID and password online or with social media but instead share out privately. Use ‘waiting rooms’ prior to starting the meeting if applicable.
#6 Practice. Like anything that is new, using virtual conferencing will feel uncomfortable at first – so practice. Get over the fear of seeing yourself on screen. Learn to slow down slightly, as video can have a 2-3 second delay. Get comfortable with the tools. And remember we are all in this together. Unusual times call for creativity, grace, and a few laughs.