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Five Tips for Hosting an Effective Virtual Meeting

Right now, people are relying on technology to connect with their community and maintain smooth operations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Associa encourages their boards and councils to continue to host telephonic or web-based meetings. Whether you’re hosting a virtual board or council meeting, engaging with residents, or consulting with partners, follow these five tips to get the most out of your virtual session.

1. Check the technology.

When hosting a remote meeting, test the technology beforehand to ensure the meeting gets executed successfully, and attendees can contribute. Always familiarize yourself with the virtual platform you’re using and make sure you can easily and quickly navigate features like screen sharing, muting and unmuting participants, and webcam permissions. The following are additional considerations for your virtual meeting:

  • Confirm that your desktop is neat and clean.
  • Send detailed log-in instructions to participants.
  • Be prepared for technological challenges.
  • Guarantee your computer’s audio is functioning correctly.

2. Set the tone.

No matter the purpose of the meeting, how you address the participants sets the tone for the duration. Open the session with friendly dialog—check-in with your residents or other board and council members. Consider asking attendees to share a new recipe they’ve tried, a new project they’ve accomplished, their favorite show to stream, or a great book to read. Then, get into the set topics for discussion.

3. Arrange your space.

The environment from which you work will affect how you look and sound in your meeting. For the best audio, call in from a laptop or desktop computer, not your cellphone. To prevent sounding like you’re in a tunnel, work from a quiet, carpeted room. Other accessories, like pillows and throw blankets, will also help minimize the echo. If you’re using your webcam, create a neutral background, and have sufficient lighting. Make sure that your face is illuminated and that light isn’t shining from behind you.

4. Get everyone involved.

Just like any other in-person gathering, some attendees may be obvious extroverts while others sit quietly observing. Don’t let one person run the show unless that was the intent of the meeting. Take the time to address everybody in the “room.” Get all participants involved by:

  • Encouraging collaborative problem-solving.
  • Giving each person time on the agenda.
  • Using video to promote connection and engagement.

5. Be respectful.

Daily schedules look a little different right now, and even though people are plugged-in from home, it doesn’t mean they don’t have other priorities. Be respectful of everyone’s time and remain present. Start on time, end on schedule, and set an agenda to stay on track.

  • Avoid multitasking. While it may be tempting to get ahead on a project or scroll through your social media feed, it can prevent you from digesting information that might be important. Plus, if you’re called on during the meeting and have to admit you weren’t paying attention, you’re at fault for further delays.
  • Turn off notifications. The last thing people want to hear when you’re presenting is a “ding” from a new email or a “ping” from your instant messenger. Set your computer to “Do Not Disturb” during your meeting or manually turn off notifications until the session ends.

In these times, we need successful virtual meetings to build the connections we take for granted in traditional in-person gatherings.

In-Person Meeting Considerations for Board and Council Members

In the days and weeks ahead, board and council members will have to make decisions on key matters that effect how their association gets managed. Every community may have different powers and requirements regarding remote or telephonic meetings, and provincial or state laws may impact that ability. Our ebook, “COVID-19: Considerations for Community Association Boards & Councils – In-Person Meetings,” shares crucial information to take into account before hosting an in-person meeting. Read the webinar summary here.