Updated: Mar 27, 2020
This blog post will share some features of a prominent virtual platform and includes an invitation to virtual meet-ups to give you practice.
This past week, people are struggling to find ways to conduct business, manage people, and get their work done while working from home. This is especially challenging for those accustomed to working together in an office. Thankfully, there are many excellent virtual meeting tools available, which is why so many people can be effective as they work remotely.
But you need to know how to use these tools to get the best of their features.
If you are a skilled facilitator, you have an advantage of already knowing group dynamics theory and successful facilitative methods. You just need to learn the platform and virtual methods to facilitate getting the best results. If you haven’t studied or practiced facilitation, this is the time to learn some basics.
And of course, if you need help planning or facilitating an online meeting, I’m here for you.
Virtually, I have planned many events, facilitated job interviews with hiring teams and candidates, led focus groups, and participated in and led countless learning community meetings. You can bring your community evaluation online too if your community has access to the Internet.
My number one recommendation: Choose a virtual platform over a conference call. Conference calls are confusing. It’s hard not to talk over one another, and you never know who wants to say something. As people disengage, they begin to multitask while on the call, and your meeting participation goes downhill. It may be fine for a few people, but it becomes confusing for others. So try a virtual platform instead.
My go-to platform is Zoom, primarily because it is easier to use. Zoom is free for up to 100 people and 40 minutes. I upgraded and pay a reasonable annual charge and can use it all I want and for as long as I want. So, try out the free version first- and see if you like it. If you pay for it, choose the advanced feature that doesn’t make people download the software first. This will help if your company’s I.T. policy doesn’t allow for external software downloads.
On a Zoom call you can choose whether to use the video camera of your phone or your computer (or not), conduct polls, put your meeting attendees in breakout rooms, have them wait in a waiting room, change the background of your personal meeting space, tape your meetings, and give yourself a “facelift.” No kidding! There is a closed-captioning option too.
You can also use Zoom along with another platform to do more collaborative tasks or for good note-taking.
Zoom has lots of easy-to-use features that I would love to pass on to you. And in doing so, I’ll share and model good virtual facilitation. I invite you to sign up for the free meet-up session with me and we will review it together.
I have been on virtual calls this week with my Technology of Participation™ (ToP) colleagues nationally sharing our expertise of different platforms with each other. I’ll share more in the weeks to come about some new platforms. For my ToP grads, I will show you, in a separate call, how to take ToP’s Focused Conversation, Consensus Workshop, and Action Planning online. So stay tuned; as it will be a good refresher on ToP methods and we can brainstorm your facilitation challenges together.