Whether with a single customer, a large internal team or external stakeholders – successful, engaged meetings are an art form.
It takes skill to know how to grab attention, be informed, be interactive, and make a lasting impression all at the same time – it really isn’t an easy task.
The prospect of having a meeting can become even more stressful when the meeting is online. Since meetings are new to the virtual world, there is no roadmap for hosting a successful meeting.
As nice as it may be, a roadmap isn’t always the key to success. Sometimes the key can be learning from people who have experience hosting virtual meetings and understand what they think will be successful. In this post, we’ll discuss common mistakes in virtual meetings and get insights from experienced HubSpotters on how to avoid them.
1. Don’t acknowledge mistakes.
Nobody is perfect.
While many people know this, an all too common moment in virtual meetings is shoving mistakes under the rug and acting like they didn’t happen. Unfortunately, when everyone is looking at their screen, most people notice mistakes and ignoring them can lead to a feeling of awkwardness.
It is at these moments that it is important to remember that an increasingly virtual world is new to everyone. We are all aware that adapting to new processes can be difficult, so of course there will be unexpected problems.
Jon Dick, Senior Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot, agrees, and his advice is relatively simple: “As the old saying goes,” If you can’t hide it, show it! “Don’t share slides? Children storming into the room? Not muted? Don’t worry – just laugh, relax, and acknowledge it.”
2. No backup plan for faulty technology.
A malfunctioning microphone or PowerPoint won’t derail your personal meeting, but it will effectively shut down a virtual meeting. With that in mind, Ashley Ladd, manager on the Diversity, Inclusion, and Affiliation team at HubSpot, says it’s a mistake not to have a technical backup plan for your virtual meeting.
Ladd says, “Our internet connection is always stable until we need it. So having a backup plan ensures your events run flawlessly and less worries about your connection or the interruption of your meeting.”
She says your Plan B may include things like having a specific co-host, teammate, or friend who takes control when things go wrong or while you troubleshoot problems, “The worst part is when you have to spend time on your connection and it breaks the flow of your meeting. “
3. Lack of discussion and collaboration.
One of the greatest aspects of meetings is the collaboration and discussion that comes from audience engagement. Virtual meetings make this particularly difficult and are often characterized by the opposite.
Becca Stamp, Senior Global Learning and Development Onboarding Specialist at HubSpot, says a common mistake is not to make room for conversation. Your solution is to make a special effort to nurture them: “It is important to give everyone space to remain silent and contribute throughout the session. Participants can add so much value through both discussion and chat. “
Jill Noonan, Senior Facilitator at HubSpot, shares this tip and says, “Create interaction whenever possible. In person or virtually, listening to someone present without interaction or conversation can be exhausting for the audience. When you’re presenting in a virtual environment and someone asks a question, open it up for group discussion. “
4. Leave inclusion and access behind.
Regardless of whether your meeting is face-to-face or virtual, it’s important to consider inclusion, accessibility and prioritize.
Use software that adds subtitles for voice transcription, writes alternative descriptive text from images for screen readers, and takes into account the different experiences of the participants.
Ben Perreira, Diversity, Inclusion, and Affiliation Program Manager at HubSpot, says an easy way to show you care about DI&B is to encourage attendees to include pronouns in their profile names. He says, “Add pronouns to your Zoom name to show up for recording in virtual meetings and encourage your teammates to do the same.”
5. Try multitasking.
Attending a meeting has never been easier, and it has never been easier to lose focus during a meeting.
When using a PC, it can be especially difficult to stay focused because everything you enjoy is right in front of you. A quick check of your email can inadvertently add ten minutes of distraction to the content of the meeting.
Because of this, a common mistake is to multitask, or at least try to, multitask in meetings. Dick says, “Multitasking during your meetings is a surefire way to leave yourself feeling uninformed and unfulfilled at the end of the day.” His solution? Simple – “Mute notifications and close email.”
6. Don’t encourage speakers and moderators.
Don’t assume that someone will be more comfortable during a virtual meeting because they’re not in front of a face-to-face audience. It can still be just as nerve-wracking to face a screen full of faces as it is to stare at a room full of people.
The support attendees receive from attendees during face-to-face meetings, such as: B. Applause, but can be encouraging and make hosts feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, this support is often lacking in virtual meetings.
Even if you can’t clap, Dick says it’s still important to show encouragement virtually, as it can feel strange without presenting human responses. He says, “Hop into the chat window to cheer and encourage people when they present. It’s encouraging and helps people feel like you’re listening. “
7. Don’t leave room for networking.
Because virtual meetings take place on a digital device, participants end up having no further interaction with their colleagues. According to Stamp, forgetting the hallway chat aspect of meetings can be detrimental as there is often a chance to network, connect, and decompress this time around.
Speaking of onboarding HubSpot employees, she says, “We saw incredible value in spending an extra five to ten minutes on Zoom at the end of each session. It creates the hallway environment for face-to-face meetings, and these conversations help us build more community among the cohorts. “
8. Be impersonal.
You may feel the pressure to show a more polished side of yourself in virtual meetings. In some cases, such as when executives are talking to their teams, this makes sense and the experience is expected to be more corporate and clear.
However, being too polished can sometimes dehumanize you, which affects the relativity between you and your audience.
Robotic meeting environments can also feel dull and switchable, which is the opposite of what you want them to be. Noonan’s tip is to show humanity through personalization. She says, “Humanity is extremely important. Knowing when and where to use personal examples or show vulnerabilities builds trust and shows that we are all on the same page. “
9. Don’t use the mute button for anything that’s worth it.
Nobody wants to accidentally leave their microphone on so anyone can shout it to a roommate or ask a pet to stop making noises. It’s not a huge faux pas, but there are easy ways to avoid this short-lived but all-too-common mistake of not using the mute button for everything that’s worth it.
Perreira says, “If you don’t speak, turn yourself off. Muting / unmuting can also act as a signal to indicate that you are ready to contribute and serve a [sic] A helpful way for group members to make sure those who want to speak have the opportunity to be heard. “
10. I’m not having fun.
Although hosting can be stressful, Ladd and Stamp say having fun is important.
Ladd recalls a BLACKhub community check-in where participants played a game called This or That. She says, “We made an edition of Black History Month, so our game featured black executives in sports, film, entrepreneurship, and more. We had about eight different slides and it was a fun, quick, and easy way for everyone to interact and participate. “
Stamp also offers space for these moments during onboarding meetings: “Schedule optional coffee, lunch, or afternoon hangouts to make it easier for attendees to connect. This gives our new employees the opportunity to get to know each other in an authentic and more personal way. “
Virtual meetings can still be successful, engaging, and fulfilling
While there are a few mistakes on this list, they are just that – mistakes. You are not the end of the world and no one is going to punish you for it.
If you take the advice of seasoned HubSpotters into account, you will likely be creating engaging virtual meetings that are just as powerful as the ones you can hold in person.