In our increasingly digital world, our online facilitation training continues to gain popularity. Knowing how to keep an online discussion focused and active is a crucial skill to have whether your team hails from far-flung regions of the world or across the state. If you’re holding your own virtual meetings, below are a few suggestions on how to get your online powwows off to a good start.

Round-Table Introduction

Before getting down to brass tacks, have participants post their name, role and location using the chat feature. Post a question or topic for them to address then go around the “room” to get their answers. Keep the topic simple, like the weather where they are, their last meal before the meeting, their plans after the meeting, etc. Depending on where in the world your team members are from, you will get varying answers that will get the conversation going and put everyone at ease.

Use the Webcam

Ask people to point their camera at something interesting sitting on their desk. It could be a picture of a loved one, a childhood memento, a plant or a fun tchotchke. Ask them to share why they keep this item on their desk. It allows your team a brief glimpse of each other’s work space without being intrusive. This can be especially useful if your team works remotely all the time, and you don’t actually share a physical office space.

Share Goals

Have everyone voice one expectation from the meeting and keep it on your whiteboard. Remind them to set realistic and specific expectations. “At the end of this meeting, I hope to have a list of deliverables and deadlines for this project for which my department will be responsible” is achievable, but “I want to know how this project impacts the company’s five-year marketing objectives” is probably not a realistic expectation from a two-hour online meeting.

As the meeting progresses and someone’s expectation is met, take it off the whiteboard. Any expectations left unmet at the end of the meeting can be assessed and included in the agenda of a future meeting. This gives your team an ongoing sense of accomplishment and makes participants feel that their concerns were addressed.

We offer virtual facilitator training courses as well as professional virtual facilitation services for individuals with a myriad of backgrounds and experiences. No matter what type of business you have, your management and staff will benefit from our meeting facilitation training and facilitative leadership courses.