The traditional platforms of networking and meeting face to face to discuss your business, has taken a rapid transformation into a virtual world of Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Teams, to mention just a few.
With the Government’s guidance indicating that social distancing is here to stay, our habits need to change. It’s sensible to look at how your business and communication activities will be affected. Therefore, what can you do to make the best of these opportunities to ensure that you achieve success?
It may sound quite simple to change your face to face meeting to an online forum, but the dynamics of discussions can be significantly altered. Here we’ve set out some ideas of how you can make your virtual meetings a success:
Preparation is key
- Familiarity with the technology – there’s nothing worse than spending time looking at a blank screen. Seeing someone talking because they’ve forgotten they’re on mute or the camera being firmly fixed on a cleavage or crotch. Set up a meeting with friends & family and practice using the technology and features of the system.
- Set your agenda – make sure you have an outline of what you want to discuss. Use key points you want to get across to your audience. You only get one chance to make a first impression!
- Prepare your materials – whilst we wouldn’t condone ‘death by PowerPoint’, having a few key slides/screens with important points you want to get across to your audience will help. They will also be a useful aide memoire for you and a visual stimuli for your participants. These materials, can then be ready to forward on straight after the meeting, to keep your audience engaged ready for your follow up. This can either be email or good old fashioned glossy brochure popped in the post.
Appearance & Environment
- Dress to impress – despite having a meeting from the comfort of your own home, how you look and present yourself is still important. If it’s a meeting that you would normally attend in formal business wear, apply the same principle to your virtual meeting. Going the extra mile counts. Let’s face it no one needs to see you in your Chewbacca onesie!
- Background – What you keep in your spare room should stay behind closed doors. No one wants to see your pile of ironing, collection of ceramic horses or secret obsession with all things Disney. Why not smarten up your virtual meetings with a professionally designed and branded background? Your background can really work for you to market your business, no matter what topic you are discussing. Remember this can be used, not just for the meetings you’re hosting, but also ones you are attending as a participant.
- Interruptions – whilst we’re all sharing the same space at home, partners, children, cats and dogs, can sometimes creep into the space, detracting from your meeting. Try to, politely suggest, that you’re not to be disturbed and the area is off limits for the duration of your meeting. Otherwise you may miss key points and/or lose your audience.
- Introduce everyone there (unless presenting to a large audience) – It’s good to acknowledge everyones attendance. This will give you an opportunity to make sure all participants can see/hear you and importantly, you can hear them.
- Share your agenda – set out what the agreed format of your meeting is. Interruptions to ask questions can lead to the flow of your presentation or discussion being disjointed and frustrating. If individuals are asking questions at the same time and talking over one another they can quickly lose interest if they’re struggling to be heard. Build in periods to cover any questions. See below on how best to manage these.
- Gathering views/asking questions – when gathering views or looking for audience participation, direct your questions to specific individuals by name. Simply opening up “does anyone have any questions”, will lead to individuals talking over each other or not having the confidence to speak at all. Go around your participants by name and ask if they want clarification on any point. Also build in your agenda the usual AOB item at the end. Make sure you invite each participant to speak rather than just a general “any other business folks” and don’t miss anyone out!
- Email – as you would in the real world, a courtesy email with copies of any materials shared and thanking individuals for their contributions, is a great way to encourage a continued business relationship.
- Printed items – we’re going a little retro here, but these days receiving something in the post can feel like quite a treat. Why not send out a postcard, letter or brochure for your audience to peruse. Whilst you may not have a home address, they will still be checking the post in the office on a regular basis.
- Branded merchandise – who doesn’t like getting a freebie in the post. We’ve not bought a pen, shopping bag or umbrella for the last 10 years. What better way for free advertising for your business, than to send out, good quality, branded merchandise for your potential clients to use day in, day out. You’ll always be first on their mind if that first cup of coffee in the morning is in your mug.
So how can IMDesign help you get the best out of your virtual meetings?
- Contact us to prepare your bespoke, branded, virtual meeting room background and really stand out from the crowd.
- Speak to us about great design and artwork for your presentations, follow up emails and printed materials.
- Get in touch for ideas and quotes on branded merchandise that will keep your business name at the forefront of your customers minds.