By the NFRW Technology Committee
As leaders in our state federations and local clubs, we must proactively address the current problem in which we find ourselves. Uninformed or unengaged members frequently result in inactivity and lack of participation, sometimes causing a decline in membership.
Following are some guidelines to make your virtual meetings a success.
Prior to Meeting
- Pick an online meeting platform and become proficient.
- Set the meeting in advance, choose and publish the format for the participants (Time, Zone, Date, etc.).
- Prepare a SCRIPT for larger meetings.
- Practice/run through the meeting with a partner who logs into service to point out potential problems.
- If virtual meetings are a new concept to your group, consider hosting a pre-training for all participants to familiarize themselves with using the platform. Hopefully, this eliminates some confusion on the day of your event.
- Send the login credentials, including passwords, in advance, but again along with a reminder at least 24 hours ahead. With our busy schedules, members get distracted.
Preparing to Start the Meeting
- Test the microphone and speakers on the devices used and the video screen monitor in advance.
- Practice/run through the meeting with a partner that logs into service to point out potential problems.
- Confirm all presenters have a good Internet connection.
- Several factors can take away from the effectiveness of a teleconferenced meeting. Avoid traps that commonly distract.
- Video Camera Angle – Position your camera to focus on you at eye-level or above, whether presenting or participating. It is often unflattering to accentuate strange feature angles.
- Background – Be mindful of your surroundings.
- Video Lighting – Use natural light side lighting where possible. Avoid glare from direct light or darkness from lack of sufficient lighting.
- Suggest only having your presenters and panelists on video - other participants can be distracting. This would not be the case with smaller, interactive meetings.
- Consider video camera position. Adjust the camera to focus from your eye-level up with view downward, which is usually the most flattering perspective. If using a laptop, place it so the camera is focused above the neck region.
- After you enter the meeting, and if you have a meeting where participants have video, be sure your whole name appears in your picture box. If not, please rename your picture box.
- Review fundamentals of the communication product with participants.
- Record the meeting and make available for those members that are unable to attend to view or post on social media or website.
- Run it as a meeting - stick to an agenda and stay on time. When we "remember," a meeting communication is not only the message but quite often the effectiveness of the speaker/moderator being timely, prepared, and succinct when presenting.
- Be a good moderator by utilizing the necessary tools to run a productive meeting by using a co-host to assist in monitoring activities such as raised hands and chats. Make sure to quickly respond to interruptions such as muting participants or distracting videos.
- Presenters or moderators should be careful about using filler-hesitation fragments too frequently (aah, um) – this practice can be quite distracting if overused.
- Whether video or audio, participants should act as if they are live, being heard, or seen. Distracting activities can negatively affect others, so it's safer to mute your microphone when not speaking.
Last but not least, be mindful of your club or state members' schedules. Don't inundate them with too many virtual meetings - make them relevant. During this election cycle, virtual forums are a good use of technology, and it assists our candidates' campaign.
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