A big part of making your meetings virtual is re-learning things that you already know in a new setting or environment. It's always important to come to a meeting with clear outcomes and an agenda; start with a round of introductions; and close with next steps. Below are five quick skills that ANYONE can do to host a smooth virtual meeting.
1. Step Up: If your group does not have a meeting host, be brave and step up, or ask the group, "Would it be okay with the group, if I host this session?" Being a host doesn't mean that you have been assigned this role. Often meeting hosts simply emerge organically from someone taking the initiative to chime in and create a process, and most of the time, I'm finding that this person is appreciated by the others in the group.
2. Keep Time: Ask the group how much time they would like to spend on each topic. Set a timer (you can do this with a Google search for "timer"), and give the group periodic timing updates.
3. Call on Speakers: We call this a "round robin" or "listening circle." Use your participant list to call on people to speak, so that everyone doesn't speak at once. This relaxes participants and ensures that everyone gets airtime. Remind participants to be concise in their language, so that everyone can be heard in the time you have. If you have extra time, ask for comments or clarifying questions.
4. Paraphrase: If someone has been talking for awhile, it's natural for participants to disengage. Help the group remember what has been said by paraphrasing comments between each speaker. A great tool for this is simple saying, "I heard you say..." followed by a brief summary sentence or two. Then thank that person and invite the next speaker. Remember to not interject your own opinions into the paraphrasing, good or bad. Simply state the speakers' comments in a few brief words.
5. Pass the Torch: If you step up as an organic meeting host, try "passing the torch." Once you've demonstrated effective hosting for a few rounds, ask if anyone else would like to practice being the host. This builds trust and space for even collaboration. It also relieves the host, so they can participate and avoid becoming responsible for hosting every meeting thereafter.