Guide to Facilitating Online Meetings

Guide to Facilitating Online Meetings

As you probably know, facilitation is a skill. It involves communication skills, patience, and coaching skills. To do it well requires a pleasant, varied voice, and the ability to build a good rapport with your audience. Facilitating online meetings is much of the same yet you can lean more heavily on the tone of voice and use of technology, for success. 

To get the most out of your online meeting time, we have a few suggestions for you that have proven to make our online meetings more pleasant and definitely more productive. 

Plan Ahead 

  • Send out the meeting invite with key ingredients to prepare attendees to participate 
    • Agenda 
    • Pre-Meeting Briefing - Background about the meeting, why, what, who, and goals 
    • Link to help documentation on the web meeting tool you will be using in case someone isn't familiar with the tool 
    • Facilitation plan (link to Getting Started with Online Meetings) 
    • Designate a Note Taker for the meeting (not yourself) and be prepared to distribute the notes to all attendees after the meeting. You want participants to pay attention, not be taking notes. 

Conduct the Meeting 

  • Open the meeting 10 minutes early to allow folks to connect and test their technology 
  • Welcome folks as they arrive 
  • If you will be sharing any materials on-screen, have an opening slide. If you will be having a guest presenter that the other attendees don't know, have an introductory slide as the opening slide, so folks can read about the person. 
  • As you begin the meeting, welcome everyone, touch on the goals but do not rehash all of the pre-meeting materials folks should have already read. Instead, ask if there are any questions about the materials. 
  • Encourage folks to use the interactivity tools available in the online meeting application you are using to make effective use of time. Eg. If folks add their ideas in chat, you as the facilitator may call on folks to direct the conversation and avoid duplicates. 
  • Be the keeper of the agenda, of time and of sound - be ready to mute folks who have background noise disturbing the meeting. 
  • Wrap up the meeting by thanking folks for their participation, reviewing the Action Items, preview of the next meeting, and by letting attendees know when they will receive a copy of the Meeting Notes. 
  • Stay on the meeting until all participants have left and then close the meeting. Often in a distributed workforce situation, the close of a meeting is the best opportunity to answer questions since you already have folks on the line. 

After the Meeting 

  • Review the meeting notes, add any more details about the next meeting or Action Steps 
  • Thank the Notetaker 
  • Distribute Meeting Notes as promised 

For more information on preparing your workers for online meetings see these articles:  Getting Started with Online Meetings and Workers Guide to Participating in Web Meetings.