As a sales professional, you need to maintain successful working relationships with potential clients, colleagues, or partners. However, email and messages can only do so much. Sometimes you really need to meet face-to-face to develop a friendly rapport, pitch ideas, products, and services, and discuss arrangements.
But how can you achieve this when the meeting room has shifted online?
When you’re in the same room as the people you’re working with, the interactions are often pretty intuitive. Communication isn’t just about words. Expressions, gestures, and body language all provide non-verbal clues that help people to express themselves and gauge how a situation is going.
In the virtual meeting room, however, these non-verbal clues are harder to detect. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to have a strategy in place to make sure your meetings are easy to follow, welcoming, and constructive for everyone involved.
( Also Read: 27 Best Virtual Meeting Platforms for your Business in 2020 )
The Following 3 Steps Will Help You to Run Your Virtual Marketing Meetings Effectively
Get your technology right
It’s much harder to make a good impression when you’re constantly dealing with tech issues. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee that your online meeting is glitch-free. Home wifi and computer setups can be inconsistent, and not all online meeting platforms are equally intuitive. However, you can make sure that you are well prepared to support the meeting’s technical requirements, so the meeting can go ahead with minimal disruption.
First of all, you need to choose the most appropriate platform to suit your needs. This might also depend on your budget, and what platforms you already use for emails and document sharing. For example, if you’re pitching an idea, service, or product to a small group of decision-makers, or meeting with your team to develop a marketing strategy, a free platform such as Slack, Skype, or Google Hangouts should be enough.
If you’re planning on hosting to a wider audience, Zoom has a capacity of up to 100 without logins, and more with a Zoom Business Account. Beyond that, you can host up to 250 people on Google Meet or Microsoft Teams if your budget includes a subscription to Google or Microsoft’s pro memberships, G Suite, and Microsoft 365 Business.
Once you’ve chosen the right platform, you need to make sure you understand how it works, and how to iron out any glitches. Run a practice call with a colleague so you feel confident with your setup, and make sure that everyone else who is due to participate in the meeting is either familiar with the technology, or has the appropriate support prior to the start of the meeting.
If you can anticipate the type of glitches you might face, you can tackle them calmly and with minimal disruption. Participants will feel confident in your professionalism, and better able to focus on the content of your meeting.
Invite the right people
A successful marketing meeting is about building strong relationships, discussing ideas and strategies, and making decisions. The ideal situation is to have key decision-makers in attendance, but be careful about over-extending the invitation to include too many people.
If an employee is not expected to be an active participant in the meeting, it’s probably not necessary for them to attend. Having fewer voices in the room will make the meeting easier to manage, and any relevant updates or actionable tasks can be disseminated by email afterward.
Even the smallest meetings need to be managed properly to make sure things run smoothly and stay on task. You should appoint someone to facilitate things by keeping time, moving things forward according to the meeting agenda, and encouraging participants to contribute to the discussion when appropriate.
Try to ensure that everyone who attends your meeting feels like their presence is necessary and valued and that their time is being used constructively. This will motivate people to continue working with you.
Have a clear agenda
Nobody likes to feel like they’re wasting their time, and a poorly managed meeting is bound to cause frustration. Before the pandemic, many workplaces were already suffering from meeting overload, and an excess of online meetings poses a serious risk of zoom fatigue.
Now that many people are working from home, the realization has struck hard that most meetings could be emails, after all. So it’s more important than ever to make sure that your meeting has a clear purpose, and that you plan your time carefully so things don’t veer off-topic.
Before your meeting starts, your participants should have all the information that they need to be able to contribute to the discussion. That means sharing any relevant documents ahead of time, so everyone is properly prepared.
Check-in at the beginning to make any necessary introductions, establish a rapport, and catch up on any projects or other matters that have been discussed previously. You should also review any actions that were agreed upon in your last meeting. It’s important to get things started in a calm and friendly manner, so don’t skip this step. You shouldn’t linger too long on pleasantries before moving on with your agenda, though.
Your agenda should designate enough time to cover each of the key matters that you need to discuss and leave enough time in the end to sum up the main issues you have addressed, actionable points, and any other business that has come up during the course of the meeting. Your facilitator will need to make sure that the meeting doesn’t veer off-topic or run overtime.
For more tips on running successful remote meetings, take a look at this useful infographic from BusinessFinancing.co.uk: