Quick Tips for Virtual Interactions

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Team Leaders/Meeting Facilitatiors

Quick Tips for Team Members/Meeting Participants 

Blocks representing a connected network of people 

Quick Tips for Team Leaders/Meeting Facilitators

  • Set a regular recurring day/time for virtual meetings (rather than having tons of polls going around) to keep momentum going. 
  • Be sensitive to time zone differences when scheduling meetings. Using a scheduler (such as https://whenisgood.net/Create) might help for geographically dispersed teams. On the other hand, it may just not be possible to have all team members on a call at once; in this case, consider subgroup meetings and asynchronous modes of communication, such as a Slack channel.

  • Scheduling half-day or all-day virtual meetings on occasion allows the team to make more dedicated progress than just check-in calls. However, Zoom burnout is real! Make sure to take plenty of breaks; we’ve found that scheduling sessions of 90 minutes to 2 hours, with breaks in between, works well. Make sure that there are achievable, concrete goals for each session to keep long meetings productive.

  • Make sure all participants will have the technology necessary to participate virtually (including downloading the meeting platform in advance, knowing how to connect and use the platform, having a Google account if using Google Docs, etc.).

  • During your call, designate a facilitator and a note taker, and have these responsibilities rotate (e.g., switch roles between a.m. and p.m.). Also designate a separate “tech” person to troubleshoot any meeting technology glitches (especially if a SESYNC IT person isn’t on the call), and to manage participants’ technology.

  • Craft an agenda ahead of time and send it to participants (including technology platforms that will be used for video conference and note-taking, designated roles, goals for each session, etc.). Stick to the agenda during the meeting for equity (don’t let a strong personality derail the meeting) and efficiency (get through what you planned to do). Reach out to teamhelp@sesync.org for help designing agendas tailored to virtual environments.
     
  • Plan in pauses strategically to let participants who don’t jump in to have a chance to contribute.

  • Be clear about how you will manage the flow of conversation virtually (e.g., using hand raising, comments, etc.).
     
  • Periodically pause to rephrase/repeat key points from discussion or tasks to make sure all participants continue to be on the same page and feel included.

  • Use a task-tracking platform (e.g., Asana, Trello, or even Issues or Projects on GitHub or GitLab) to help the team make progress on big-picture tasks, as well as discrete sub-tasks (e.g., before a meeting, during a day-long meeting, after a meeting). Reach out to cyberhelp@sesync.org if your team needs help getting started with GitHub or GitLab.
     
  • Take advantage of specific videoconference platform features to enhance your meeting. For example:
      • The “breakout room” feature on some virtual platforms (such as Zoom) can help teams focus on specific tasks/topics, and then come back together. 

      • The chat window can help the facilitator field and answer questions/comments from all participants.Use screen sharing during the meeting to help “give the floor” to participants.
         
      • See more details on useful Zoom features here.

 

Quick Tips for Team Members/Meeting Participants

  • Try to rephrase/repeat key points from conversations or tasks periodically during discussion. As a participant, this can be useful to make sure you continue to be on the same page as other participants.

  • Remember the time lag and don’t talk over others.

  • Put your best face forward and minimize distractions for both yourself and other participants:
      • Don’t sit with a bright light or window right behind you.

      • Minimize background noise and/or mute your microphone when not speaking.

      • Test your technology and call software ahead of time (e.g., make sure your audio is working, etc.).

      • If possible, use an ethernet cord for a smoother internet connection during video calls.