I cringe at the sound of the words “scheduled meeting.” My manager undoubtedly will ask me about my latest numbers and the latest developments of some highly escalated issue with a customer that I have yet to resolve. There’s always some type of pre-meeting spreadsheet that needs to be filled out and sent back to the moderator which rarely saves all the data that I’ve entered. There’s another report that needs to be pulled from various data sources and analyzed. And there’s always an outlier that defies any practical explanation.
The only solace I find in these meetings is the small break in my weekly routine where I’ve been chained to my desk for hours at a time. It’s amazing how Starbucks has given us all a little more hope with its espresso shots to get us through these unwarranted torture sessions!
As a moderator your main goal is to relay data points, highlight current and ongoing issues, and provide a platform for your team to contribute to the conversation while keeping the topics flowing from one base to the next. By the time you are called upon to host your first meeting webinar, you already have knowledge on setting up the webinar and call-in details and your primary concern is how to be a great moderator.
The below are some helpful tips in hosting a seamless webinar meeting:
1.) Prepare all documents in advance.
- Go ahead and send all relevant materials to your team 1-2hrs before the actual start time of your meeting. If you have some great “secret” material- go ahead and send it over! Your team will be impressed with your findings even if you sent it over early.
- Always include the date, time, webinar link, and conference call-in details in your reminder email to the group. But, if you’re having connection issues and some users can’t see the screen, it’s nice to rely on your backup plan.
- If your attendees were supposed to fill in a report before the meeting, make sure that you have that report already handy. This way you can avoid having everyone on the meeting wait for them to research and click away on their keyboards while the rest of the team members wilt away.
2.) Meetings are more fluid, less rigid, and require better moderating.
- Just because someone is connected to the webinar meeting does not mean that they can see everything that is going on at your conference room. Leave plenty of time to re-answer the questions that may have come up during the session taking into consideration that there may have been connection breaks and feedback causing the person on the other line to be temporarily disoriented with your material.
- Leverage your webinar session by involving some distribution of the meeting- ie, if you always go over a finance report, have someone on the other line discuss one to two of the findings. This way you will keep your attendees on their toes.
- It’s easy to get off topic on a subject that interests another team member and end up wasting away half of the meeting time on irrelevant chatter and never getting to the main point of the meeting. Be prepared to transition these types of conversations with statements like, “Well, that’s an interesting point, let’s move on to XYZ now.”
3.) Keep in mind what you want your team members to take away from the meeting and re-iterate it clearly.
- First in your introduction of the meeting give a short teaser about why you called the meeting and highlight the main topic, then in the middle of the meeting transition back to the main point and add in additional details, and lastly as a bullet point when you are finishing up. If nothing else, you have done your job to bring the main topics to light.
- I once had a manager who would stuff so much material into our weekly meetings that the scheduled time of 30 minutes grew into two hours every week! With a longer meeting, your attendees are less likely to remember the true emphasis of why you called the meeting in the first place! They are much more likely to do other activities (such as check emails, etc.) on the side. You want to keep them engaged at every turn.
4) Always thank the attendees for their time and provide follow up on any questions that you were not able to get to during the meeting.
- A shorter, rather than longer meeting will perk attendees interest to stay on the line through the entire meeting.
5.) Always send out a meeting minutes summary right after the meeting.
- Highlight the actions that each person from the team is expected to complete and the timeframe for it.
- A quick summary helps keep the meeting fresh in the attendees minds.
The main difference between presenting a webinar and holding an online meeting is that in the first situation, you are the primary speaker and what you want to cover is already boxed up. In the second situation, you are relying on a much more fluid conversational format in which you, as the moderator, touch base with your clients, prospective clients, and employees and engage them on a personal level.
In addition to the main five points above, as the moderator for the scheduled webinar keep in mind that you have complete control over the direction and tone of the meeting. Do not rely on a supervisor or colleague to rein back in a meeting that has gone off track. With confidence, transition back the meeting to the main discussion points. Keep upbeat, stick to the agenda, and close the meeting on time. Not only will you gain your colleagues trust, but you will also gain a steady and loyal following.
Mark Harris, mid-30’s, successful freelance writer and Internet marketer, works from the comfort of his home and enjoys using the latest technological resources found at www.webconferenceclassroom.com to keep his peers updated across the country on projects that he’s working on. He also loves to get outdoors, spend time on the area’s many beaches, avid kayaker and hiker, lives with his wife in White Rock, BC on Canada’s beautiful west coast.