Stay Connected Virtually: 5 Lessons Learned
I’ve had more Zoom video calls in the last two weeks than I’ve ever had before. Everyone, it seems, wants to stay connected virtually.
And I know I’m not the only one.
For example, my dad, John, retired to Florida a number of years ago and spends a good amount of his time teaching senior fitness at a local gym. When the snowbirds are in town he gets upwards of 40 or 50 people in one class.
So when in-person fitness classes were canceled due to corona virus, his students asked (begged) him to teach the classes online. And my almost 77 year old dad did exactly that. He subscribed to Zoom, called me to help him work out some kinks and brought his classes online.
And people love it! He still gets 40 to 50 participants, they jump on early and stay late to chit chat, just like in-person.
Dad is not the only one going virtual.
My husband, Michael, who is used to working face-to-face in an office setting, is now working at home trying to get the company up and running on Zoom.
My Toastmasters club meetings have gone virtual.
I’ve “zoomed” with my mom and sister and cousins.
And I turned my networking events into (much smaller) virtual gatherings.
Stay Connected Virtually
Everyone is trying to connect virtually. Including those who have never gathered virtually before.
And when done well, people appreciate the opportunity to stay connected online. (Though, I have to add, nothing can replace meeting live and in-person.)
There is much to learn about the virtual meeting space. And while I’m no expert and most definitely still learning, I wanted to share a few of the lessons I’ve already learned, so that if you decide to host a virtual gathering you have less to think about.
Keep the group small
At least at first. I’ve kept my networking gatherings to no more than 8 people. And folks have said that is the perfect group size. The tendency with virtual is to get as many people on the call as possible. Less is often more. It gives everyone a chance to participate and if you’re new to online facilitation, gives you a chance to practice your skills without feeling overwhelmed.
People are forgiving
Virtual gatherings are new for most of us. And I’ve found audiences are forgiving if there is a tech mishap, a dog barking or a kid screaming. So don’t sweat it!
More relaxed and human
For many, working at home is brand new, so we see the human side of folks and to be honest I find it endearing. Zoom meetings have become more relaxed (yoga pants and slippers anyone?) and people understand we are truly in this together.
One person talks at a time
Due to the dynamics of virtual meetings, it is important to have strong facilitation skills so that you can manage the conversations and make sure only 1 person talks at a time. Otherwise, I’ve noticed echoes and delays that keep others from hearing the message or idea.
In person meeting rules apply
Just because it’s virtual and most likely from a more relaxed setting like your house, doesn’t mean you can relax on the basics of running a good meeting. Have a clear agenda, set expectations with the group (i.e., let them know the agenda, how you’ll keep people on track and that 10 minutes before the end you’ll check-in so you can wrap up on time), start with introductions or some “small talk”, facilitate well and end meetings on time (with the option for folks to stay longer if they can or want).
This is not the time to hold back (though easy to do). Shift and pivot? Yes. Withdraw? No. The world still needs you. Your voice matters more than ever. Virtually meetings are better than nothing to stay connected instead of isolated. You can do this.
Be well, stay safe, keep shining.
Your Turn to Talk to Me
How do you stay connected virtually?
Do you use Zoom?
Or are you enjoying the alone time?
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