Which one of these happened in your last Zoom/Meet/Webex/Teams meeting?
- The speaker asked a question, and the echo of crickets was deafening.
- You kept yourself muted on audio and video while multitasking because everyone else is doing it.
- The meeting ended and you’re not sure why you wasted 58 minutes of your life.
- All of the above.
- None of the above. The speaker’s Wi-Fi went down, and the meeting promptly ended.
There’s not much you can do for the person who ran the meeting, but you can make sure that never happens to you. And, let’s be honest, at least one of those things has happened to all of us over the past 20 months.
Here are the 5 biggest mistakes when running virtual meetings and what you can do to avoid them.
You can be a jack of all trades, but you must master one: the platform you’re using. With virtual meetings, technology is a critical part of the experience that YOU create. Your ability to navigate screen sharing, chat, toggling views, and using media will make or break your credibility.
The only way to avoid technology gremlins is to practice. That’s right, we’re talkin’ about practice. You should practice your virtual presentation and using any related technology relentlessly. Find a tech buddy—someone who can be the guinea pig and tell you that your cursor is driving them nuts or that the font is waaaay too small. Also, master the basics:
We’re always competing for attention. The virtual world has made it an outright war. Talk less, and they’ll smile more.
Whatever time you’ve allotted for your presentation, cut it in half. Don’t plan for too much content. That means you must ruthlessly prioritize your message. Use the Decker Grid™ to create a message that is audience-centered and ends in action.
And don’t forget to budget time for connection.
Leave some space for unproductive talk. Too often we become too focused on task vs. relationship building and don’t allow for the connection we need as a team.
Death by slides. It’s happened to all of us. We’re so focused on the content we need to get across that we don’t think about the experience of our listeners.
Engagement doesn’t just happen. You must engineer it. After each section, add a discussion question in chat, then go to gallery view to discuss it as a team. Add a poll. Use Q&A. Some of our favorites are word cloud exercises, Kahoot quizzes, and breakout rooms. These kinds of practices can boost engagement up to as much as 86%.
And remember to get a co-host for larger virtual meetings. They can manage the chat channel to answer questions, launch polls, and add notes.
You’ve been staring at the same slide for 10 minutes. The speaker moved on to the next topic long ago and is now leading a discussion. The problem is, you’re still staring at the slide. Don’t end up on the wrong side of this scenario when you’re the presenter.
Pro-tip: Stop sharing your screen!
You planned for engagement (see #3 above), so engage them. Go to gallery view, take a look around…
Taking a slide down immediately connects you back with people. Your audience is more likely to engage, ask questions, brainstorm—and they’ll be more invested in the outcome as a result.
“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” What’s your backup? What’s the backup for the backup?
Fail Fast and Move On
You can turn a mistake or problem during your presentation in your favor—as long as you keep your composure and recover quickly.
By practicing, planning, and knowing your message and tech inside-out, you’ll build the “mental muscle memory” needed to bounce back and get back on track.