This age of connectivity has certainly opened up a number of ways we can communicate with each other. Not only that, but it’s given us the opportunity to be more flexible in the way we conduct business.
Have you ever considered regularly hosting virtual meetings with your members? It’s not as hard as it may seem! And making certain membership activities more accessible to members is totally worth the learning curve. Since MemberClicks acquired ePly and WebLink, adding office locations in Vancouver and Indianapolis, we’ve gained a lot of experience in this area. Here are a few things we’ve learned:
Find a system that fits your needs
If you aren’t already using a web conferencing system, it can seem daunting to select one that best fits your organization’s needs. Some things to consider when you’re searching are:
- If there’s a cost, of course!
- Whether or not it will show all attendees’ cameras
- How many people can join a meeting?
- The user experience (making sure it’s easy for members to join and engage)
- Can it record sessions?
- What kind of support is offered for technical difficulties?
- If you can screen share to display information
- Is there a chat function?
Typically, we use Google Hangouts to chat internally in small groups, and Zoom for larger meetings, training sessions and demos (to give you a couple suggestions to look into).
Test it out
Make sure you thoroughly test all equipment before your first virtual meeting. Since it’s your first time, you’ll need to work out all the kinks! Then for every meeting following, do a quick check to make sure everything is up to par. Test that your Internet connection can handle it (sometimes it’s better to be hardwired in than to use WiFi), your microphone (and those of anyone who will be speaking), and your camera.
Make sure you notify members about testing, too. Depending on your meeting you may not have them using their microphone or camera, but it’s always a good idea to ensure a strong connection all around.
Some best practices
As you could guess, there are a few things that will make your virtual meetings run smoothly:
- Ask everyone to mute their microphones unless they are speaking - the cardinal rule of virtual meetings! Otherwise, you’ll get a lot of unpleasant feedback and distracting noise.
- See if you can get everyone to use their camera. This will encourage engagement and make the meeting feel more intimate.
- Make sure you know how you want the meeting to flow ahead of time. As with in-person meetings, things may come up - but having a general plan or agenda will ensure smooth sailing when it’s time for someone to present or share their screen.
- Consider developing a “hand raising” system for larger meetings. It can get confusing when too many people try to chime in at once! Some systems, like GoToMeeting, have a built-in hand raising button.
- Another thought for larger meetings (especially ones where there typically isn’t a lot of participation from members) is to encourage use the chat box function. That way they can ask questions and share among each other without disrupting the meeting itself.
- You’ll want to follow up with attendees and non-attendees alike via email. Consider recording your meetings and sending that with the email, or linking to it in your members-only portal.
Did you know that we host a virtual meeting for our users every other week? Our Biweekly User Group Calls are a fantastic opportunity to hear about key features, learn some tips and tricks, and participate in a live Q&A - all with MemberClicks and WebLink product trainers! These meetings repeat every other Wednesday at 1pm EST - once you’re registered, you can add a repeating event to your calendar. Join for as many as you’re able!
The next call for both user groups is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18 at 1pm EST: