Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Workplaces are balancing the unfamiliarity of going virtual while protecting their organizations. While most are still finding that balance, a number of fast-adapting companies have found that virtual meetings are better than the real thing.
From the January 2021 Edition of eFORUM)
By Kelly Maxwell
When we can gather again, you will likely go back to meeting many clients face to face. However, it is safe to say that virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere for many reasons.
Time saver. Clients and advisors can stay in their office or home office and avoid some of the potential hassles that go along with travel (e.g., weather conditions, traffic, parking, etc.) There is also more time in between meetings when travel isn’t required.
Excellent backup plan. If something unexpected comes up during the day or one of the attendees in the meeting isn’t feeling well, the meeting can go on as planned with the click of a meeting link.
Proximity. If you have clients who are not in your region, in the past you may have called them. With virtual meetings, they can still see you and share your screen for a more interactive experience.
Which software should I choose?
You likely have preferred software at this point, whether it be Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Webex, or GoToMeeting, to name a few popular options. I spoke with Emily Bennett, the Personal Coach’s technology coach, and she offered this feedback on the various options:
It’s all about your needs. Some applications offer tiered pricing so you can pick out the options you need for your remote sessions. Consider the types of meetings you will handle remotely — small groups or one-on-one meetings require different software than webinars. From the client perspective, does the application allow for different ways to connect — for example, can clients easily call into a meeting or connect from their laptop from the same invitation? Some applications require a different invitation for phone-only meetings than video calls.
Integration with your existing applications is important. Some integration considerations include:
Will the application set up the remote meeting at the same time you enter the meeting in your calendar? This also allows you to have a one-click link to the meeting when the time comes.
Can the application access your contact list so you can easily set up the meeting and link it appropriately to the contact records?
Does the application link to your CRM so that you can keep your meeting notes in one place?
Above all, ensure that the remote meeting application is compliant and offers the utmost security to keep your conversation secure. Choosing the right application is about knowing what you plan to do and then making sure the application will fulfill your needs at the best price.
Many advisors have chosen software because their company policy mandates it. We have also seen advisors choose software based on security and their own personal preferences with regards to features provided. Some even give their clients the option to choose the software they would like to use, based on their preference and comfort level. Some software is better for a PC versus a Mac platform.
If you have flexibility in terms of choosing your own software, I would suggest having you or a team member sign up for a free trial. That way, you can navigate through the software options you are most interested in and decide based on your preferences and business needs.
How can my virtual meetings be effective?
Send anything you are going to review during the meeting, along with the virtual meeting login, 24 hours in advance. That way all parties in the meeting are ready and can prepare questions.
Keep the meeting “tone” similar to a face-to-face meeting. Start off on a personal note and ask how the attendees are doing? This can help you understand your attendees better and vice versa.
If you are meeting with a prospect, ask them if they would like an e-copy of the document discussed or if they’d prefer a hard copy be mailed to them. That way they still have something to take with them to review after the call.
We’ve seen advisors impose background images onto their screen (e.g., tropical location, hotel lobby). This certainly lightens the mood with some humour, and we can all use some more humour in 2021!
Share your screen when possible so you and your attendees are looking at the same documents.
How to avoid virtual meeting fatigue?
Virtually meetings are exhausting. You are sitting in the same position — possibly not ergonomically — for hours on end. You are listening extremely intently so you don’t miss anything your attendee is saying. You are troubleshooting any technical issues that arise and you are quite possibly doing this all day long.
Try limiting your virtual meetings to two hours at a time. After that, take a break. Stretch, eat, or work on another task. Give yourself enough time in between to feel refreshed and rejuvenated for your next meeting.
When face-to-face meetings become an option again, organize your time to be most effective. If you prefer virtual meetings in the morning when you are fresh, meet with face-to face clients in the afternoon.
Kelly Maxwell, BBA, is a digital marketing coach at The Personal Coach.