In this new world, virtual meetings and events are now the new norm.
For most, this is either a blessing or a curse. Ultimately, it’s up to you, which it’s going to be.
But if you’re like me with a driven mind, and you probably are if you’re reading this, you want to turn this new challenge into a blessing and a skill.
Today, we’re talking about 4 ways to create engaging and effective virtual events.
We all have been through “these times” now.
Here we are.
Now we get an opportunity to start playing the game at the highest level possible.
Hopefully, you’re already doing that.
But if you’re unfamiliar with what we do here, it’s all about making things happen and getting away from passive leadership.
This applies to virtual events and meetings as well.
This isn’t about sitting on the sidelines.
This isn’t about wondering what’s going to happen to me next.
It’s about driving things forward.
If you feel that way, I do invite you to join our private Facebook group.
We’ve started a new group that you can join.
It’s a free group, but it’s a private group.
You do have to answer a couple of questions.
We only want leaders in there, and we want a safe environment for you to share.
In this group, we’ve been talking about virtual meetings and sharing our experiences in the process, so it’s useful for me too.
No One Is Perfect
How do I get better?
I had a meeting blow up in my face recently.
I had a super big challenge happen to me.
You need to have a community where you feel comfortable to be yourself, ask the questions, help each other out because none of us have it all figured out.
Even those that are telling us that they’ve got it all figured out are lying to themselves.
Every time you turn around, something changes, and there’s something different to pay attention to. Maybe it’s some new regulation, whatever it is.
Let’s talk about it today.
My Own Groups Do It Too
I got four things that I want you to focus on when you’re creating your virtual meetings.
This can be on different platforms.
It can be in different formats.
Maybe you have a monthly communication meeting company-wide, and some of your team is now virtual. Some of you may run multiple locations.
So you always have some of your team virtual.
For myself at the Blue-Collar Success Group, the company meetings I attend are from the road even during “normal times.”
Sometimes I’m at headquarters in Phoenix.
In the group, we have team members in Florida and Pennsylvania.
We’ve got our location in Arizona.
But with all these different things happening, we know that there are some meetings that flat out suck, right?
A buddy of mine, Cameron Herold, wrote a book called Meetings Suck.
And it was actually kind of a fun read.
Sometimes you see a different perspective, and it makes you go:
Hey, wait a minute. Here’s a new reality.
We all know the meetings can be very challenging when done in person.
When you’re literally looking at the people you’re trying to engage and influence, it’s still tough.
Now they’re behind the screen.
Now they don’t want to turn the camera on.
You have no way of reaching out and going:
Hey, by the way, are you still with me?
Or do you?
Now with technology and the platforms that we’re utilizing at our beck and call, we can do amazing things.
We influence and create driving change.
Moving forward, you’ve got to embrace these things and become better at it.
Today is all about asking ourselves: what does this look like?
4 Ways To Create Engaging And Effective Virtual Events
In my trials and tribulations in this area, I realized 4 fundamental truths to making a successful virtual meeting or event.
These tips will work with any platform or setup so that everyone will get something from it.
Here we go, friends.
#1 Be Prepared, Be Early
You’ve got to be prepared and be on early.
Wow, Kenny. That’s a big mover and shaker tip.
Be prepared. Of course, I’m going to be prepared. I’m getting on my team.
Hang on a second.
Yeah, I’ve seen some of your team meetings.
I’ve attended some meetings where the host is getting on kind of last minute, grabbing the last drink of water.
Let me have a sip of water before I get started.
Let me wipe the sleep out of my eyes because I just rolled out of bed.
Everybody makes jokes.
I’m only wearing a nice shirt and my PJs on the bottoms.
I’m lucky because I’ve been virtual for over 10 years doing training and different things by a camera.
But you know what? I’m going to say something weird now.
These pandemic times have been the best thing to happen for us in terms of virtual meetings.
Companies are implementing new features and better systems like gangbusters. The platforms are finally now getting better.
Is It That Simple, Kenny?
When you get on, be prepared and get on early.
What do I mean by that?
You can use this the same software time after time, day after day.
And all of a sudden, you log in, and something’s haywire.
The day I wrote this, I had a Zoom meeting.
We use Zoom as a platform many times, and I had a Zoom meeting with somebody.
I changed my microphone situation.
I went over to a different place where I was going to the meeting, and I had no sound for whatever reason.
If I waited until right before the meeting, my meeting would have crashed and burned.
I had to restart my computer to fix it, and I still have no idea what happened.
I was the one that was kind of out of sorts, and it was just a private consulting situation.
So it wasn’t a big deal.
But if I was hosting that meeting for a lot of people, it could have been terrible.
#2 Know The Platform
Make sure that you know your platform.
As I said, we use Zoom a lot.
I used to use a ton of GoToWebinar. Back in the day, I ran some WebEx.
That was a little challenging.
Sorry if you’re a WebEx fan or part of the company, but it was very cumbersome to use for me.
Whatever it is, if you’re using Google Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote, or whatever, you need to know your platform.
I don’t care what you use. And neither does your audience.
What they care about is that if you’re doing this for your team, then you look a little bit better prepared as a leader to lead them through crazy times.
You need to show everyone you know your presentation when you’re getting in front of them.
So number one, be prepared and get on early.
Number two, know your tech and platform.
Run The Gamut
Oh well, Kenny, I use Zoom to talk to family or whatever.
Do you use Zoom meetings, or do you use Zoom webinars?
Two different things.
How do you do the settings?
Do you set up the settings ahead of time?
Do you allow the chat box to come up right away?
Are you putting a question box separate from the chatbox?
Do you have people come in muted right away?
Do people go into a waiting room before the meeting?
Are you having things that they have to click and sign before they go in?
Are you utilizing chat rooms?
You need to run the gamut and ask yourself all these questions before starting. It gets easier and faster with practice, but every time you still need to run the checklist down.
If you’re running a bigger company and you have different levels of engagement.
Know your platform inside and out at the level you’re using.
Don’t Try To Learn Everything, Learn What You Need And Do It Well
As I mentioned, I use Zoom a lot for one-on-one coaching, group training, sessions, and leadership training.
We use it at one of the companies that I own for meetings and different things.
My team of coaches uses it.
However, I don’t know everything that Zoom does.
And quite frankly, I don’t want to know everything that it does.
I want to know everything that it does for me in the way it does it for me.
I want you to be mindful of that.
Don’t learn everything about everything.
You want to be an expert at the things that matter and drive your business forward. OK?
This reminds me of an earlier post on playing the right game with the right equipment.
#3 Set The Ground Rules
Now let’s get to number three—set ground rules, especially for team meetings.
Whoever you are, the CEO, manager, team lead, community leader, or whatever set the ground rule for the meeting early on.
Of all the tips, this one derails the meetings and frustrates attendees the fastest.
Everybody’s busy, and everybody’s got this going on.
What are your ground rules?
Because if you’re going to be there, then be there.
This is critically important.
Nothing happens effectively if you don’t have some ground rules set up.
You don’t have to be all crazy about it.
You don’t have to drop the gavel and all that.
Ground Rule Examples
Here are some ground rules or meeting norms, if you want to use a fancy word, that work for me:
- Video on
- Mute unless called on
- Use chat for on-topic questions only
- Keep your background clear of distractions as much as possible.
- You’re here for the meeting, be here. Don’t do other work.
What happens when people don’t follow the norms?
Be understanding to a certain degree.
First, I gently remind myself of the whole.
Then, I stop.
Let me say that again.
If we were meeting in person and you were talking over me, I’d stop and wait for you to finish.
I do this in meetings too.
Give them a moment and say:
“OK, cool. Thanks for taking care of that.”
Or if there’s movement or distraction, or if they’re off task:
“OK, you got something here. I’ll pause.”
Hang on to make that point. I’ll stop talking.
“OK, you’re ready now?”
You want them on camera too.
If you’re running meetings for less than 50 people, it’s a really good thing to have people on camera and turn their camera on.
I’ve learned people don’t care about what background you have or what your hair looks like or how it makes your face look.
I’m traveling as I write this, and I don’t have the luxury of worrying about the background.
Model The Expectations
Yeah. I had to do my hair today.
I had to take a shower and shave for you.
Whether I’m writing, recording a podcast or video, or hosting a meeting, I do all this.
Do I have to?
I guess not, but the leader in me wants to be the model I want my team mates to be.
The same is true with your company meetings.
If you let your team off the hook, they will take the hook and not shower.
They’ll roll out of bed right before hopping on.
I don’t care if they show up and their hair’s not done. I want them to show up and see it.
They’ll only take it as seriously as you model it and require it to be.
#4 Facilitate Collaboration
Last but not at all least is to facilitate collaboration.
You are the facilitator here.
The world has changed from when you could walk around the room and tap on someone or ask questions.
It’s one of the hardest things I do right now because I can’t just walk around this room.
I want to, but I’m even trying to move my hands too much to distract you.
But I can’t walk around, and I’m someone who likes to move.
That’s how I came up as a speaker as a trainer. I moved the room.
I “worked the room.”
We don’t have that opportunity.
Now what I would recommend for you, though, if you’re facilitating is to stand.
If you can stand up, you’re just going to be more engaged.
You’re going to have more energy flowing.
You’re going to breathe better, all those different types of things, but you’ve got to facilitate collaboration.
If you’re running bigger meetings, make sure you have a platform and software that allows you to do breakout rooms.
Have people break into groups, and you can bounce around and check on those things.
Include Everyone Somehow
If you’re running your team meetings or company meetings, try to keep them digestible to make sure you’re creating facilitation.
You’re making sure everybody gets an opportunity to talk.
Everybody has a chance to speak.
Everybody has a chance to share, and everybody has an opportunity to be heard.
Hey there, you may also like to check out the 3 tips for communicating effectively as a leader in uncertain times.
Let’s recap these 4 ways to create engaging and effective virtual events.
- Be prepared. Be early.
- Know the platform
- Set the ground rules
- Facilitate collaboration
My friend implemented these four things, and your virtual meetings will improve.
You’ll get better engagement, and therefore they’ll become more effective.
Ultimately, you will get excellent results.
Until we talk next, my friend, make it a better-than-fantastic day.
I can’t wait to connect with you again!
About Kenny Chapman
Kenny Chapman’s mission is to help driven leaders build their ideal lives and careers (even if they don’t know what that looks like yet). He is an award-winning authority on helping people discover their true potential and make the simple, though not always easy, necessary changes.
Kenny is a professionally trained speaker, consultant, columnist, author of The Six Dimensions of Change 2.0 and In-Home Sales Acceleration, and host of the Leadership in a Nutshell podcast. He is an entrepreneur at heart, building multiple successful companies, most recently the Blue Collar Success Group. His teachings have inspired individuals worldwide to reshape their lives and organizations, creating sustainable change, happiness, and personal fulfillment.