The outbreak of COVID-19 caused most businesses to change how they operate, with travel restrictions and remote work arrangements becoming commonplace around the world.
In-person meetings and events have been cancelled or postponed all the way into 2021, giving rise to understandable concerns of a negative impact on industries that rely on people coming together to share ideas and key information. This is particularly true of the clinical research industry, where investigator meetings are key to the success of clinical trials.
In these unusual times, where we are unsure as to how long this new way of working will be enforced, it’s important that businesses relying on meetings don’t panic and go into decline. Thankfully, with the use of digital technology, it has never been easier to communicate and engage with groups of all sizes around the world. It’s time to bring virtual meetings into focus.
How Do Virtual Meetings Work?
Virtual meetings connect remote presenters and attendees online through their electronic device via a web-hosted platform. They allow people to share information and data in real-time, without being physically located together.
Use of technological features such as HD video and audio streaming, screen sharing and delegate collaboration make virtual meetings a viable alternative when it’s not possible to hold an in-person event.
Attendees can be connected across offices, events, internally and externally, from anywhere in the world, taking your meetings much further. They are a huge opportunity for businesses, even in less troubled times.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Virtual Meeting
For a virtual meeting to be successful, it’s important you are thoroughly prepared.
Of course, at this stage, you have the choice of organising a virtual meeting yourself, however, engaging event management experts will ensure a smooth, trouble-free meeting.
Here are some key points to get the most out of your virtual meeting:
1. Use video. To make people feel like they’re all at the “same” meeting, use video conferencing rather than traditional conference dial-ins. There is a range of technology platforms that can help you make the most of video conferencing.
2. Always provide an audio dial-in option. Video conferencing relies on a strong internet connection, which may be problematic for some attendees. People need the ability to participate via audio and may even want to dial in via phone. For maximum impact though, make it clear that video-first is expected.
3. Use an Audience Engagement App. In a virtual environment, you only have people’s attention for a fraction of the time you would have in a face-to-face meeting. This increases the need for intelligent use of participant engagement. Using a companion app to work alongside the virtual meeting platform enables maximum audience participation for a truly engaging meeting.
4. Test your technology ahead of time. Always make sure the platform you’ve chosen works before your attendees are in the meeting. We find it helps to do a test run of the meeting ahead of time.
5. Assign a facilitator. It’s usually harder to manage a virtual discussion than an in-person one, as people don’t have visual clues to rely on. To ensure the conversation is kept on track, assign one individual to guide the conversation. In larger meetings, your facilitator can also use a polling system to get feedback from attendees on certain questions in order to ensure all voices are heard.
6. Have a turn-based system in place. Getting everyone to participate without talking over each other can be a challenge when running a virtual meeting. We’d also recommend periodically calling on individuals to speak to ensure everyone gets heard. Some technological platforms even allow attendees to “raise a hand” if they want to, which can make facilitation easier by allowing people to offer relevant input without interruption.
7. Capture real-time feedback. Gathering and processing high-quality input during a virtual meeting can be challenging. Use a survey tool to collect feedback from attendees on specific topics in real-time.
8. Ensure you are secure. We recommend using AES-256 Bit Encryption (government-grade security) when hosting your virtual meeting through a virtual meeting platform.
6 Steps To Setting Up A Virtual Meeting
1. Choose your platform wisely. There are many different virtual meetings platforms to choose from, and the most suitable platform for you will depend on your desired outcome and goal. Key considerations are:
- Expected attendee numbers
- Time and duration
- Content hosts and attendees wish to share
2. Start inviting delegates. Ensure you have a creative strategy in place to monitor and nurture attendees effectively to ensure maximum attendance and engagement on the day.
3. Assign tech responsibilities. Should you opt to work with us at mdgroup, a dedicated WebCast Technician will launch your online meeting an hour before start time. They will also be available to help iron out any technical difficulties throughout. The WebCast Technician can welcome attendees to the virtual meeting and explain how the meeting will run.
4. Ask your presenters to join 30 minutes before the virtual meeting start time. Think of this as a final line check before a band goes live at a concert!
5. Ask your attendees to join at least 15 minutes before the virtual meeting’s start time to iron out any technical difficulties and make sure they can all see and hear the meeting.
6. Keep to a time schedule. For critical content which might generate lots of discussions, we recommend that a virtual meeting isn’t any longer than 3-4 hours (this also ensures people stay engaged!)
7. Always record your meeting and follow up after with the recording. This allows attendees to reengage and catch up on anything they may have missed.
mdgroup can provide you with the support you need at every stage of your virtual meetings process. From inviting, chasing and registering delegates to a dedicated technician to detailed delegate engagement reports, we’ll take care of every detail of your virtual meeting management and beyond.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your requirements for upcoming meetings.