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  • Tracy Tyler

If I can host and facilitate a Zoom meeting, you can too!

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Yesterday marked my one week anniversary as a Zoom user.

And WOW….it was a busy week! Starting with a webinar, then hosting 1-2-1 coaching sessions, a full Vistage group meeting with 12 members, an afternoon chat with friends, a Huddle connecting my Vistage members between meetings, and finally coffee with my sisters. (A friend has played Clue and Bingo with her family on Zoom, but I haven’t done that yet…I want to though!)

Meeting virtually is great, but it’s a very different experience. It is important to get comfortable with it…because this powerful tool is not going away and can be super productive IF you plan ahead and adjust your thinking a bit.

Here are basic some tips I have learned/tried so far to host/facilitate a great Zoom meeting:

1. Logon early and be ready - turn off your notifications, mute your phone, use the restroom and fill up your coffee prior to joining the meeting AND make sure your attendees know to do the same before the meeting starts. Additionally, make sure your family knows you will be on the call and that they don’t distract you unless there is an emergency.

2. Use video and make sure participants are prepared to do this ahead of time as well (this visual connection is game changing vs. an audio only call). I like the gallery view the most, because you can see everyone.

3. Pay attention to your background (if you are surrounded by junk or something uninteresting, or just want to change things up, you can set a background by going to Video Settings (mine is next to the video camera icon in the lower left corner). Click Virtual Background, Click the + symbol, and then click Add Image. You can choose any saved image you have!)

4. If this is your first time as a host, make sure you watch a video and practice prior to the meeting. Ask first time attendees to watch a video as well or join you a few minutes before the official start to walk through how it works.

5. For the host and all attendees: when you are talking, be concise. Make a few notes about what you want to say and keep it short. Don’t weigh in if you have nothing new to say. 6. Use and encourage nonverbal communication - raise your hand when you have something to say and wait your turn, use thumbs up and down, wave, applaud, etc.

7. Have a well thought out meeting plan. You may have to coax some to participate. Have a focus, question for everyone to answer, a topic to share about, etc. Trust me, the conversation doesn’t flow as naturally as when in person!

8. Make it fun – if you have a team, think about a fun contest you can run - funniest coffee mug, most unique background, theme dress, describe something in room, high fives to recognize get my point!

9. For updates, introductions, and check ins, keep a 2-3 minute per person limit. Be the time keeper (or designate someone else) and have a nonverbal signal to let the person know when time is almost up. As a group member finishes, have them pass it to another member. 10. Take frequent breaks – my rule of thumb is 10 minutes/hour

As we learn the how to best function in the “new normal”, there are some good things to continue when the crisis is over. Zoom is one of those things that changes the game for me – personally and professionally – and I plan to continue using it well into the future!

NEW TIPS ADDED 4/7/20 - With all of the security issues I have been hearing about with Zoom, I wanted to make sure I created the most secure meeting I could. Here are some new tips that I have adopted in the past week:

11. Don't post meetings on social media - all should go via email to specific people you are inviting.

12. Require a password to access the meeting. This is easy to do when you set up your meeting. There is a box to check for the password and you can make it what you want. Once you do this, the box will stay checked, so you don't have to do it every time you set up a new meeting.

13. Enable waiting room. This will allow you to "let people in" to the meeting. This is a Meeting Option when you are setting your meeting up...again, a box you check. And, again, it stays checked.

I am not a tech expert, but I am pretty sure there are some hackers who can get through every safe guard. Hopefully. these tips will help make it safer and take away some anxiety you and your meeting attendees may have. (We surely don't need any additional unnecessary stress right now!)

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