In recent months, virtual meetings have become a necessity for organizations of every type because of COVID-19. If virtual meetings are new for your organization, you’re probably learning some of the nuances that make virtual meetings different from in-person meetings.
Regardless of the type of meeting you’re hosting, you’ll want to do all that you can to ensure that the participants have the proper notice of your meeting and that they’re prepared to present and discuss all topics when they log in. As a virtual meeting presenter, you’ll also want to be sure that the participants are actively engaged during the meeting. Virtual meetings give you much control over your meeting time which makes it easier to adhere to designated time allotments. A virtual meeting agenda template will help you to be sure that you’re starting and stopping your meetings on time and that they’re productive.
Whether you continue using virtual meetings after the pandemic is under control or whether you continue them as a matter of course, this is the time to sharpen your skills for hosting virtual meetings.
Here’s a virtual meeting agenda template to help you make the transition to a virtual meeting agenda.
VIRTUAL MEETING AGENDA FOR [YOUR ORGANIZATION’S NAME]
Link to virtual meeting
Contact name and phone number for people having questions or having trouble logging in
List of attendees and their titles or positions
Call to Order – Board Chair
Approval of Prior Meeting Minutes
Executive Director Summary
Follow-Up from Previous Meeting
New Business Items
Next Meeting’s Agenda
You can add or delete headings as necessary. If time is an issue, you can also add approximate times for each item to keep everyone on track. You may opt to add presenter names so participants know what is expected of them and they will arrive prepared for their roles. You may also opt to label the items according to the action or response the participants need to take such as information only, vote, accept, approve, etc.
Tips for Getting the Most from Your Virtual Meeting Agenda
While the agendas for virtual and in-person meetings are similar, the nuances of virtual meetings can easily take your agenda off course. By setting up a meeting agenda that addresses the needs of participants that are attending at home or in other non-meeting spaces, you won’t waste valuable time addressing things that are out of your control.
Here are some tips on how to ensure that your virtual meeting agenda is efficient and productive.
Publish your virtual meeting agenda at least five days before the date of your meeting.
It’s just as important to get your meeting agenda to all participants early just as if you were having your meeting in person. Inquire of your board if they have anything to add to the agenda a few weeks before the meeting. Send your virtual meeting agenda as an email attachment and in copy it into the electronic meeting invitation. Participants are bound to see it one place or the other.
Host a group call with meeting presenters.
The board chair is usually the meeting facilitator. An important difference between virtual and in-person meetings is that it’s difficult and inefficient for board chairs to run a virtual meeting completely by themselves. Three people can handle the job for most meetings. Schedule a group call with the presenters before the meeting to be sure that each of them can access the meeting software and their video and audio functions work. Do a mock run-through of the meeting and clarify each individual’s role and responsibilities for the meeting.
It’s helpful to assign someone to take care of the technical end of things. Some participants may not be familiar with the technology and may need a bit of help logging in. Others may experience internet disruptions or have issues using online meeting tools like chat or widgets.
It’s also helpful to assign someone to assist the board chair. The person filling this role can greet participants as they check in and prompt the board chair when they’re running out of time on a particular item.
You may opt to choose different people to serve in the ancillary roles so that your board isn’t overly reliant on a few people.
Make a few housekeeping announcements at the beginning of the meeting.
Just as with an in-person meeting, your participants will want to know what to expect before the meeting starts. If your meeting has the capability of screen sharing, you can post a slide with virtual meeting expectations and reminders.
When you send the link for the virtual meeting, remind them to log in on time. You may ask them to mute themselves so that everyone isn’t hearing background noises or dogs barking. You might also give them some practice at muting and un-muting themselves or using widgets like “step away” and the chat box. Many virtual meeting platforms allow participants to chat with everyone or just the meeting leaders. Point out how they can do this in case they have questions or comments during the meeting, so they can direct them to the appropriate individuals. Also instruct them on how to use icons like clapping hands or smiley face icons.
Use polling tools and ask questions to encourage engagement.
Virtual board meetings can be as dry and boring as in-person meetings. Most virtual meeting software comes with the capability for sending polling questions out to participants. Prepare a polling question or two to make your meeting more interesting and engaging.
To keep things lively, you may also want to prepare a few questions to throw out to specific individuals or to the whole group so that participants feel like they’re an integral part of the process.
Contact any meeting presenters before the meeting.
In addition to listing presentations and speakers, it helps to contact each presenter directly at least a few days before the meeting to make sure they’re prepared and ensure they can complete their presentation within the allotted time.
Document your meeting.
It’s important to document your meeting for legal and compliance purposes. One of the benefits of virtual meeting software is that it often has the capability to record your meeting. If participants are unable to attend, a recording provides an easy alternative to keep them in the loop.
Alternatively, type up detailed notes and attached visual presentations to preserve the details of the meeting.
Finally use BoardEffect software to prepare your board handbooks, meeting materials, and virtual meeting agendas quickly and easily online. BoardEffect is a valuable complement to your virtual meeting protocols because it automates board meeting scheduling, approvals, action items, and tasks. You’ll also benefit from the many other valuable features of board management software.