This age of connectivity has certainly opened up a number of ways we can communicate with each other. Not only that, but it’s given us the opportunity to be more flexible in the way we conduct business.
Have you ever considered hosting virtual meetings with your members and/or staff? For members, it makes certain activities more accessible; for staff, it could provide more balance. And, in some circumstances, it may be the only option. No matter the case, it’s worth the learning curve!
Since MemberClicks acquired ePly and WebLink in 2017 — adding office locations in Vancouver and Indianapolis, as well as a handful of remote employees — we’ve gained a lot of experience in this area. Here are a few things we’ve learned:
Find a system that fits your needs
If you aren’t already using a web conferencing system, it can seem daunting to select one that best fits your organization’s needs. Some things to consider when you’re searching are:
- What is the cost?
- Will all attendees have the option to share their camera?
- How many people can join a meeting?
- What is the user experience? Is it easy for members to sign up, join, and engage?
- Can it record sessions?
- What kind of support is offered for technical difficulties?
- Can you screen share to display information?
- Is there a chat function?
At MemberClicks, we use Zoom for just about everything internal: one-on-ones, team meetings, cross-department collaborations, and even our company-wide monthly meeting.
For larger initiatives, like onboarding new customers, we use our own learning management system, MC | LMS, so we can track progress and distribute content effectively.
Test it out
Make sure you thoroughly test all equipment before your first virtual member meeting. You might even try hosting a virtual staff-only meeting first: the point is, you’ll want to work out all the kinks ahead of time!
Then, for every meeting following, do a quick check 10-15 minutes prior to make sure everything is working correctly that day:
Make sure your Internet connection is stable (sometimes it’s better to be hardwired in than to use WiFi)
- Check your microphone and that of anyone else who will be speaking
Turn on your camera(s) and watch for any lag, as well as what attendees will see behind you and any speakers
Make sure you give members some testing tips, too. Depending on your meeting you may not have them using their microphone or camera, but it doesn't hurt for them to check. (And, ensuring everyone will have a strong Internet connection is always a good idea.)
Some best practices
As you could guess, there are a few things that will make your virtual meetings run smoothly:
- Ask everyone to mute their microphones unless they are speaking — the cardinal rule of virtual meetings! Otherwise, you’ll get a lot of unpleasant feedback and distracting noise. As the administrator, you may have access to set this up as a setting beforehand or before you start.
- Encourage folks to share their camera, especially if they’ll be speaking. This will encourage engagement and make the meeting feel more intimate.
- Make sure you know how you want the meeting to flow ahead of time. As with in-person meetings, unexpected items may come up, so having a general plan or agenda will ensure the meeting stays on track. And, logistically speaking, an agenda will help others know when it’s time for them to present or share their screen.
- Consider developing a “hand-raising” system for larger meetings. It can get confusing when too many people try to chime in at once! Some systems, like GoToMeeting and Zoom, have built-in hand-raising functions.
- Another thought for larger meetings (especially ones where there typically isn’t a lot of participation from members) is to encourage use of the chat or Q&A function. That way they can ask questions and share among each other without disrupting the meeting itself.
Note: it’s always a good idea to have someone with your organization monitoring that chat, too, to chime in with answers and/or added value.
- Follow up with attendees and non-attendees alike via email. Consider recording your meetings and sending that with the email, or linking to it in your members-only portal.
Did you know that MemberClicks hosts a virtual meeting with our users every other week? Our Biweekly User Group Calls are a fantastic opportunity to hear about key features, learn some tips and tricks, and participate in a live Q&A — all with Atlas and Oasis product experts! These meetings repeat every other Wednesday at 1pm EST —once you’re registered, you can add a repeating event to your calendar. Join for as many as you’re able!
You can find the complete schedule (and register) here:
This blog post was originally published on 4/10/18. It was updated on 3/17/20 for added value.