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Online Meetings: Facilitation Tips and Tricks Part 2

Hopefully, you have started implementing last week’s facilitation tips and tricks! Click here if you missed it. As we discussed last week, there are similarities and differences to facilitating in-person vs. online meetings.  I talked with someone recently who was a master at facilitating in-person meetings but had really become discouraged and ready to give up on facilitating online meetings. If you can relate, you are not alone! Online meetings can be challenging and new facilitation skills need to be adopted in order to be successful. Join me this week as we highlight three more facilitation tips and tricks that will help your next online meeting be successful!

  1. Set expectations. Prior to the meeting, send out an agenda (usually at least one week in advance) and when you begin your meeting set expectations for the meeting. Remind folks why you are meeting and that you would like active participation. Let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to join the meeting and that you may be calling on them individually to provide feedback. Let them know what you would like to achieve by the end of the meeting – and if it’s a particularly small group (2-5), take some time to see if they have additional expectations for the meeting.
  2. Pay attention. Take mental (or written) notes about who is participating. Consider who is not participating.  Listen closely to how your participants are sharing information and if you can see them, use the facial expressions to help you facilitate the conversation. Similar to an in-person meeting, sometimes things that are not being shared are just as important as those that are being shared, and you need to pay attention to both! It’s likely that not everyone will be using their camera, so you will probably only be able to see a few of your participants. While it can be nerve wracking to lead a meeting when you cannot see everyone’s facial expressions, use those you can see as your “gauge” for the meeting. If they are engaged and energized, then assume the rest of the attendees are as well. If they are looking confused or concerned, take the time to pause and reflect and acknowledge that you may need to take additional time or allow for further explanations.
  3. Be productive. One of the best ways to ensure that participants will show up and engage during your next meeting is if you get things accomplished during this one!  Keep your agenda and meeting purpose simple and clear. Focus on the topic, make progress on your collective work and create clear action items and people responsible for those items!  When you are productive, have engaged others and you end on time, your team and partnership members (mostly volunteers!) will be more likely to actively participate in your next meeting and you can continue making progress toward your collective goals!

So what about you?  Which of these facilitation tips and tricks have you used during your online meetings? Or which ones will you use in your next one?

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