How to Maximize Engagement in Your Virtual Meeting

Beyond Virtual Facilitation: How to Maximize Engagement and Tackle Problems in Your Virtual Meeting


You'll be glad, this is beyond virtual facilitation, how to maximize engagement and tackle wicked problems in your virtual meetings. It's been about a year now that we've all had to rely on the virtual format to communicate with each other.


I think by now many of you probably have your favorite tools and methods, but there's always more that we can learn. I continue to be surprised by how many folks are still discovering tools that I've been using, you know, for months now. And how many new tools are coming up? So I hope in this short 45-minute virtual facilitation training, you're going to get both a framework for how to think about and structure your virtual meetings, but also some trips tips, tricks, and tools to maximize participation. And to really get at some of those difficult conversations that we have tended to rely on in-person experiences for. And who knows when we won't be able to go back to that. So, let's just jump right in.



This is me on the slide. It's me here in the video if you can see me. I have worked with organizations in about 60 countries around the world. So lots of virtual engagement through communication there. I'm both a facilitator of pieces of training and meetings. And I also help coach leaders on their facilitation skills. I come from a background in fundraising and donor engagement. And so you might see, I give some tips, not just for your internal meetings, like with board members, but also your donor engagement strategies, as well.


And so that's a little bit about me. I've got my eye on the questions box, if you have questions about the content as we go, I'll be helping to clarify some things, and then we'll also leave a few minutes at the end to get to your questions.


So what we're covering today in a nutshell, really the top three steps that you see actually have to do with what happens before the meeting, right? Because the way that we're able to be effective in the meeting really comes down to preparation, right? Are we dialed down in our purpose? Have we selected the right people to be there, And have we prepared them for the experience?


Then we go into some basics of maximizing engagement during your meetings, tackling the hard stuff, and what happens at the end. So that's kind of the outline we're going through today. I'm going to jump right in and learn a little bit about you through a poll.


So tell me a bit about your biggest virtual meeting challenges? I'm gonna go ahead and launch this.


And can every ..., it looks like close to it? Well, that didn't work out very well, but I'd love to hear from you in the chat. What is your biggest virtual meeting challenge? You can just put A, B, C, D, or E in the chat and I'd love to hear from you. I think a lot of folks might have situations where you have certain participants dominating the discussion. They talk over other people, they kind of hug the floor. Many folks who attend this free webinar also have situations where you've got people there but they're not participating or contributing they're muted, their screen is blacked out. Lots of you have B Oh, yeah. I'm seeing that. Lots of being lots of C, right, a lot of talks, very generative.


And then after the online meeting ends, nothing happens, right? No one takes action.


I've got a few folks here with D and E Some tension, discomfort, conflict. Yeah, absolutely. So it's looking here in the chat, and thanks so much for participating. B is the broad one, overall, so we're absolutely getting to that. And we've also got a helpful dose of C and D And so this is your first lesson. If anything kind of fails you in the moment, always have a backup plan and a pivot. So I'm gonna go ahead and move on and thank you all for participating. Great. So we're here in Section one, which is around purpose. And I love this quote on the screen. It's a Russian proverb. If you chase rabbits, you won't catch either one. So one of the biggest mistakes that folks make in the very beginning is trying to accomplish too much in short of a time. You've got, you know, 50 items on the agenda and a 45-minute meeting. You won't be able to have enough time to dive into any of them in enough detail to solve any problems or come to any decisions. So really get clear on the purpose of your meeting, and that's what this first section is on.


So I wanted to talk about setting goals. A lot of folks, when they think about why they're going to structure a video meeting. Why we're gathering, right? Why are we getting this group of people together at the same time? You're probably thinking about the content goals, right? What are the topics you want to discuss? What are the decisions you want to make? But there are other kinds of goals I'd like you to think about for the meeting agenda. You know, so, here are some examples of content goals, For instance, getting feedback on an initiative, I'd like you to think about experience goals. So, this has to happen before the meeting in order for you to craft that kind of experience, what's going to happen during the meeting? How are you going to get that feedback? Maybe an example could be that you want to go around, and you want everyone to have a chance to voice their opinions, and so, you're specifically structured, so that you know, might call on folks, you know, by name to contribute in that moment.


I want you to also think about relationship goals. This is how participants feel after the meeting. Do you want them, you know, you might have brought them together to get feedback on an initiative, but maybe you really want them to leave feeling excited about it. So, you've got to make sure, to end the call with, you know, with something hopeful with, you know, the benefits or the pros of that initiative. And so, what do we, what do we want people to feel after they leave? That's that experience. And then the other thing is action goals. How do we want participants to behave after the meeting? What do we want them to actually do? Because we need to make sure to follow up with them about that before the meeting is over.


So, one example could be that participants encourage others to support the initiative, or they have to complete certain action items. We want to get clear on each of those goals before the meeting actually takes place.


The other important thing that I want you to think about and also stress to your participants before the meeting is why now, right? Why are we getting people together right now? We all have a lot going on. You know, we're very busy.


So, what is the urgency, right?


What do you stand to lose by not meeting, And so if this is something that could be put out too later if you don't have to make a decision for another six months without losing anything, then why do we have to meet now?


Stressing that urgency to folks and kind of the timing, and what they stand to lose if we don't meet, and we don't come to a decision now, really motivates people to attend and pay attention and to focus with you on that particular target.


We're going to move on. Now, We talked a little bit about purpose. I know I'm moving a bit quicker, because it's a 45-minute webinar, and we have a lot to cover.


We're going to talk about who we want to attend, So we've thought a little bit about the purpose of the meeting.


And, of course, I'm sure you're thinking about, who has the skills and knowledge, and experience needed to achieve the meeting outcomes, right? You know, who do we want to be there? Is it our entire board? Is it a particular committee on the board? Is it our donors, Is that our volunteers? But I want you to think about a few more folks to consider bringing in.


I want you to think about, who cares enough about the outcomes of this meeting? Who can prioritize the outcomes? I think we've all known that person who only takes meetings, you know, from their phone in the car when they're driving from one place to another.


And that is not someone who can necessarily prioritize our outcomes. We want someone, who is going to be there, and who sees these as a priority as we do. And the other thing to think about is, who is affected by these outcomes? And so a big challenge with operationalizing decisions that I see in an organization is you might have your board come together to make a particular decision, but those aren't the people who are going to be affected by the outcomes. They're not the ones who are necessarily responsible for implementing them. And if we leave out those critical stakeholders, they could be staff, they could be, you know, even program participants or clients in your organization. If we completely leave them out of the meeting and they're not at the decision table when these topics are being discussed, then they may not have buy-in, and, you know, it can be really hard to operationalize them because we haven't heard their voices.


We haven't heard, you know, where they're going to be challenges or barriers. And so, think about who is affected by the outcomes, and consider engaging those people in your meeting.


And so, a lot of you said that B was your biggest challenge, B, is people not participating enough, you've invited them, you know, they have great wisdom to share.


And they're just not engaging.


So, here's my slide on some tactics you can use to get them to engage. So one is that you don't want to have silent partings, you don't want to have people auditing your meetings. And so, that means that everyone who's invited is expected to contribute. There's no one who's there, just to kind of listen in and learn, you know, because when there's one person who's silent when one person has, you know, doesn't have their camera on or is muted, it kind of sends the signal that, that that level of participation is permissible. And then everybody else is going, oh, well, so and so is this, you know, on mute and has their video off. So next time I joined, I'm gonna go on mute. I'm going to have my video off, so I wouldn't allow that.


A couple more things here, is to not have passive observers, don't have people just sit in on the meeting. So you can learn about us. So the challenge here, I see this a lot with boards and committees, perhaps you're vetting like a new board member, or, you know, a new person to potentially join the committee, and so you invite them to a meeting and say, You know a sit in so you can So, you can learn more. You don't have to talk. You don't have to engage. So, again, the sends the signal that that level of participation is acceptable, but also neither you nor the person sitting in on the meeting, really benefits from it. if this is someone you're really considering, for, you know, a board position. This is a person with a lot of wisdom, a lot of talent, a lot of expertise to contribute. And you're not benefiting from any of that expertise when they're sitting there in silence.


Also, they're not really benefiting. We know through adult learning principles, that people retain more information when they actually engage with the content, right? So when they are asked to apply it to their own lives, when they're asked for feedback about it, that person will retain more from your meeting if they're being asked to do something with the information that's surfacing in that meeting. And so, the way to kind of do this is to make sure that there's time on the agenda for that person to introduce themselves. Even though they're just kind of they're not formally joining the committee yet. Let them introduce themselves.


And pick targeted points on the agenda where you're actually going to ask them for their outsider perspective, right?


You might be discussing a report that the committee has seen 100 times, and you can turn to that new person and say, Hey, we are eyeballs deepen this report. And, you know, we've all seen this a whole bunch. But you're new here. This is your first time looking at it, is there's something we're missing. Is there something we're not seeing that you're seeing? So, that kind of outsider's perspective is very valuable. And, we don't get that.


We don't get that when we're just asking someone to, you know, just listen in and chime in. If they want. Right? Make sure they have time on the agenda, and that you're getting their outside feedback on that.


I want to talk a little bit about ideal group size, because, for some of you, who don't have high levels of participation, it may be because your meetings are too big.


If you've got more than 15 people, it's very hard for individual people to feel that they have time and space to contribute. Probably everyone is being quiet because they don't want to hog the floor, or they don't want to speak over someone. Or they're thinking, well, there's a lot of folks here, You know, maybe someone else has something to say, I'm just gonna kinda stay quiet into the background, and not contribute. And so it might be that your meetings are too large, and so I'm gonna give you some ideal group sizes, which you can see on the screen.


If you are trying to make a decision, not just make a recommendation for a decision, but making a decision, You need to have a group, or really of, like, six or less.


You have the high levels of sharing of storytelling of participation, and you can really tackle some complex problems in a short span of time, you know, even an hour. But the more folks you have, the harder that gets to be to achieve. When we're really looking for a diversity of opinions, we want a lot of different feedback from different stakeholders. We're trying to brainstorm new ideas. So maybe you're thinking, OK, you know, we had a virtual event, you know, last year, or maybe you didn't, and you're planning 1 for 2021. What should entail? You know, what elements do your donors or previous event? Attendees want to see, this is a great way to engage. Some of those, you know, table captains in a group of around 12, you know, it could be 10. It could be a little bit more. But you want to get a lot of new ideas. You want to get feedback. Having a larger group is going to be more conducive to that, but there is less interaction per participant.


The other thing we see is, if you're going to have more than 15 people, on a, on a call, you will need to use breakout rooms through Zoom. If you're wanting them to engage, you're wanting to get their feedback. You've got to divide them into smaller groups, because, like I said, more than that, it's very hard for each person to have a turn to speak, and they're all, you know, kind of holding back in consideration of the other. So, you'll want to use breakout rooms. And I've got some activities coming up in the course of this that will tell you about how to use those breakout rooms effectively.


And so, I want to also share a little bit about diversity and representation, which I think is really important.


Yeah, we've got a question here from Caitlin. Any tips for keeping a small staff meeting 8 to 10 people, engaging for people when not discussing projects that they're involved in? So, you know, here's the other thing about that. Staff meetings are notorious for updates, right? You've got somebody from each kind of department just giving an update. And, I would say to send updates through e-mail as opposed to discussing them with the staff. If there's not information for someone to act on, then why take up their time, it, you know, altogether like that? So, instead, I would have any kind of updates that don't need action, right? There's no action from other staff members. There's, there's nothing really for me to do with that information. Have it sent out in some kind of a briefing document in an e-mail before the meeting.


And then at the meeting, you want to focus on where there are action items or where there are decisions. Or there's something to do with the information. So, I used to work in fundraising.


We would have meetings with our program colleagues. Program colleagues would not care a bit about what I'm doing. This is Sara Lee, you know, with donors and with campaigns, but I would bring to them in the meeting. Alright, everyone, I'm going to need a story for our next campaign, or I'm going to need a speaker. for the event. Who do you, who do you think, right? And I would, you know, give them all the updates in the background on the event in an e-mail. We don't need to take up time discussing it. But, I need a speaker, and, and that's what I'm here to, you know, to get you from. Can you think of who would be good for me to ask, right? So, that's how I would recommend keeping those engaging, so people aren't sitting there in silence, just kinda listening to someone update. That'd be my advice. If you have a follow-up question, Caitlin, feel free to pop that in.


I really want to talk about something that, Priya, Parker, who's the author of the Art of the Gathering, says, around diversity and representation. Again, no silent parties, but, I know that we want to bring a lot of different people into our meetings, into our gatherings. We want to make sure that we're leveraging their unique experiences and expertise. And in her book, she talks about, Good exclusion activates diversity, right? So, by excluding some folks by not inviting 50 people to a meeting and end by thinking, well, you know, maybe we just need 10, and then instead of 50, you're actually able to use and to benefit from the experience of others. So she says, you know, good exclusion activates diversity. If everyone is invited, no one is invited. By closing the door, you create the room.


So she talked about this a little bit. In an example, she gave with a Book Festival that she was part of the festival used, to be structured in, having the audience sort of sit auditorium style, and look at an author who's onstage Reading from their book. And they'd be sitting there in silence. And the Book Festival Engaged, Pria Parker, and told her that one of their initiatives is to increase diversity in the audience. They want more diversity in the audience. And she goes, well, what's the point if everyone's sitting there in silence, and she actually prompted them to completely change the structure of the book festival? So instead of people sitting in silence, while the author reads, they're actually sitting in roundtables of groups of no more than 10, and the author will be onstage reading a passage. But then there's a question that comes back to the audience for them to discuss in their small groups, and this was her way of actually activating diversity in that particular instance now. You have a small group of 10 that are facing each other, and they can talk about different topics and issues that the author has brought up.


And so, that's what I want to say. You want to get a lot of people with different experiences. But you have to make sure that the structure of your meeting is such that, it activates the diversity. And I know that this is an issue that comes up a lot when you can't narrow down the list. I've dealt with this with a number of clients. And I have some tips here.


So, if the process is greater than the product, that means that the goal of the gathering, the goal of the meeting is, you know, not to produce a deliverable. It's not to produce a, you know, make a decision, or produce an end result. It's really just to gather us so that we can build relationships. You know, build teams, learn more about one another. It's about process, not product. Then do a series of many meetings.


Instead of having 100 people, you know, on a call, and even trying to, you know, use breakout rooms and things like that. Why not just do 10 smaller meetings with 10 people, They can all get to know each other, Nobody's gonna. You know, remember, meeting 100 people in an hour, or something like that, so, so that is what I would recommend we've Got a quick question from, Karen, When you say, process: Is it more people-oriented? Exactly, yes. When I say the process is greater than the product, that means that we're not creating something tangible or making a decision. It's really about engaging the people, and so, you have to get into smaller groups. Either do many meetings or do a series of breakout rooms if you're hosting like, a huge conference call, where networking is a big part. of that. You want to have either sort of special breakout virtual sessions that are just for networking, Or they could be utilizing breakout rooms, but no one's going to be able to network with one hundred people at once. And so, consider making micro versions of that experience.


If you're on the other end of the spectrum, and the product is more important. That means that we need to, you know, create a deliverable. We want to come up with a checklist. You know We want to, you know, come up with a, you know, a paper, we wanna finish a paper. We want to make a decision, right?


Again, you don't want to have micro meetings because, you know, if you get 10 groups with 10 different meetings, they might make 10 different decisions. And really, we don't need 10 different decisions. We need one decision. We don't need 10 different checklists, right? We need one. And so if that's the case, this is where a lot of groups struggle because they want to have 100 people, you know, provide input on, let's say, a checklist that, they're, that, they're creating look at getting asynchronous feedback. So, narrowed down your list, you know, to 10 people, or less who can be a part of that smaller meeting to create the checklist.


And then in an asynchronous way, like through e-mail, send it out to those 90 other stakeholders, know, you could tear them, there could be a process for that to say, hey, the 10 of us met, we created this document, we really want your input. What do you think, e-mail me back, right? That's a way of getting their input without having to engage them in a meeting. We've got another great question from Karen. Would you do several mini-meetings within one virtual event? Yes, but depending on the virtual event, they might all have to happen at the same time. It depends on your event. If you're going to have like a gala, for instance, you could do the networking component before the gala, so it's kind of a happy hour, you know, get excited, you know, and I mean even a day before, so it could be a stewardship event that comes after the gala.


You know, or, if it's a conference, it could all happen, You know, In one day, it just sort of depends on, again, sort of your goals and what your audience's needs are, in terms of that networking component, whether you do it all on the same day or before, or after, but you have a number of options, just know that you can't achieve everything you know, and in one hour. And so the point is to kind of think about the gathering in the event or the meeting, as happening beyond whatever, sort of time constraints are, on the invitation. What can you do before? What can you do after? What can you do during the event?


And so, I'm going to move on now to talk a little bit about expectations and prepping.


I think many of us have been in webinars, and maybe we've experienced what that graphic looks like on the right with the dog. I know I've been in webinars where I was told that you know, it was just going to be a webinar. I'm there to look at the speaker, and then all of a sudden them in a breakout room. And they're telling everyone, Put on your camera, we're all going to discuss something, And I look a lot like that dog on the left. And I was not prepared for it. You've gotta prepare people. If you're going to expect them to participate.


If you're gonna expect them to be seen on camera and heard, you've got to make sure, to tell people that. Otherwise, you know, they're, they're not going to appreciate kind of being surprised.


And so, um, know, if you have routine meetings with people who are never on camera, you know, you could say hey, we're going to try something new, We want this to be super engaging. I mean, you're gonna e-mail them in advance and say are you able to participate and have your camera on.


And I know that in the beginning of the pandemic we all had to sort of deal with our home and life situations, and many folks didn't have a good workstation or things like that, and we're still We're still dealing with challenges for sure and so we want to be accommodating and accessible you can let them know you know, we'd love for you to be on camera You know, is this going to be possible for you? If you're meeting with folks for the first time, I said I've worked in a lot of different countries, it's nice to know what language the meeting is going to take place in, and, you know, a lot of multilingual offices. You know, assume one thing or the other.


You know, I like to even be really clear when it's kind of a long event, know, how long session will sessions will last and when there'll be breaks, you know, people who are still navigating, you know, childcare. And for a variety of reasons, they need to be able to plan out their day. And so, just saying, you know, we're going to have a six-hour conference, you know, be available from noon to six. It doesn't work for folks, and so, you need to be clear about when breaks are happening.


If you're asking for a large time commitment from people, You know, to Caitlin's tip about making staff meetings more engaging, what can go out in advance through e-mail, right, so that people aren't just talking through their updates. Anytime you hear someone talking, you know, for a long time, five minutes or more, without asking a question or without bringing a challenge to the group for the group to make a decision about, that's probably an e-mail, right?


You know that, that kind of a meme, like the meetings that could have been e-mailed. If someone's talking for a really long time, it probably could have come in an e-mail and, you know, just kind of be clear around multitasking during the meeting, and also, if you're bringing certain stakeholders together, Letting people know if it's going to be recorded. If it's going to be shared, you know, especially when we're working with donors, in many cases, we have to maintain confidentiality. So we can't record, or things like that. So getting really clear about the expectations.


People, people love when they know exactly what to expect.


I'm moving ahead now to kind of what I call my critical decision handout. And so, if you're in a situation where you find you are not getting your objectives met, like, you've got to come to a decision in the meeting, but instead, all you do is just kinda talk about the decision instead of making it. And you meet again, and you just keep talking about it. We had some folks answer that. That was one of their issues with the poll.


This is the handout that I use. It's one page.


I sent it to all participants in advance, and it states clearly, one, the purpose of the meeting, And so here's my example, deciding whether we're going to go with Option A or Option B The deadline to take action. These are outdated deadlines and now we've blown past those. But you want to put the deadline there so that people know that this is time-sensitive. What happens if we don't meet, right? So, if we don't make a decision option, you know, Option A or Option B is going to be off the table because it's related to certain time constraints. I list what we know about each option, and also what we don't know, because I think this helps with both people who are chronically indecisive, who are like, well, you know. We can't really decide until, you know, that, you know, the vaccines available. Or, at this point, it's available. But not everyone has received it. We don't know when everyone is going to be vaccinated, or how that is going to look.


Know, if that's if there's information, we don't know, we have to continue making a decision. A lot of folks now are looking at their events for Fall of 2021, and thinking, oh. Are we going to be able to gather face to face, or not? Are we all going to be vaccinated or not? There's a lot that we don't know. And yet we have to make a decision, not knowing it. And so, I like to list those variables out there. I like to list what we do, know it because also there are people who rush to a decision very quickly, Knowing only two things, You know, two of the 10 things, and they're very quick to want to make a decision, and there may be more than they need to consider. And so, if you find yourself, you know, in this loop of not, getting decisions made, consider some kind of a one-page handout like this.


I'm going to go ahead and talk a little bit about roles.


Remember, we're moving a little bit into kind of what happens during the meeting, but we're talking about it in preparation. Because you've got to determine who these folks are going to be before you meet. So, every meeting needs to have somebody in these roles. They can be the same person. They can be different people. It depends on the size and the complexity of your meeting, but someone needs to be the host. So, someone needs to be the first one that gets on onto the screen and says, Hey, welcome everyone. You know, we're about to get started. You know, that's kind of the MC someone, should be listening for content in terms of what's relevant irrelevant. What's redundant? someone should be listening for engagement?


Who has spoken And who hasn't been? We all know, probably know very clearly who those folks are that are kind of hogging the floor all the time. But sometimes it can be easy for someone to slip under the radar and never speak and the whole meeting, And we don't even realize it. So someone has to be kind of looking at who's there and who is not sharing at that moment.


Someone's got to keep track of time, not just when the meeting ends, but are we kind of moving along with the items as planned, and someone is taking notes or creating visuals if that's part of what you're doing, And someone also should be responding to tech issues. Particularly, if it's, you know, this is a conference, This is, you know, a meeting with a lot of donors.


What I want to say here, is there don't have to be six different people. You don't have to have six staff at every meeting. Clearly, one person could serve many of these roles, but if you have a really large gathering if you have your gala coming up, if you, if you're going to host some kind of a conference, you cannot have one person do all of these things. It's really impossible to host, host an event and welcome people and try to MC it at the same time. People are calling and texting because they can't get into the virtual meeting platform, they lost their password. You know, they're having certain tech issues. People are chatting, it's very hard to do all that at once, it's actually impossible. I'm doing the best I can hear even. And so you want to have someone on your team designated as just the tech person.


If it's going to be a large public event, You might want to have a fellow staff member. If this is more of a board meeting, you can say, OK, you know, I'm the Chair of the board. You know, I'm hosting, but I want you to be listening for content and engagement. And you can ping me if you feel like folks aren't speaking up, or you can even chime in yourself. Just be thinking about that before you go in.


We've got a great question from Alyssa Do you have suggestions for a board meeting retreat?


A lot of them I hope you're gonna get a lot of ideas. Here I think broadly, and let me know if you have more specific questions. Broadly, the retreat should be shorter. I know usually they could be a whole day or multiple days of a retreat.


It should be shorter if you're gonna have people on You know if you have eight hours of content don't make it. take place in eight hours in one day. Break it out into, you know, 2 or 3 hours a day over a series of days, because it's very hard for people to, You know, Devote that kind of time now, screen time eight hours straight in one day.


So break it out into a series of days, condense it as much as possible, make it really interactive. No updates, no, you know, long presentations. If you have someone, for instance, from your program team presenting on some work, make sure that they have questions for the board every 10 minutes. Don't let them present for 45 minutes, or an hour, while the board sits there in silence, pause, every 10 or 15 minutes, and say, you know, great. So this is one facet of our program. What questions do you have? Or if you don't have any questions, I have a question for you, You know, and, and come up with things like that to make it engaging.


It's very hard for people to do that. So great. Thank you, everyone. Alright, I'm going ahead and moving on now to tech prep just in a little bit more detail.


Of course, everybody needs to know, the platform, the video, the audio, the sound. You know, if they're going to have a background, you know, if you're going to do a big, a big event with presenters. And so, even with Melissa saying, with the board retreat, if you're going to have your program staff present to the board. You know, make sure to do some kind of a dress rehearsal. Make sure that they know the tech makes sure that the presentation is engaging, just practice in advance of that.


I will say that the presenters must send their slides and visuals in advance, so this is very much the case for conferences and things like that. If something comes up, there's always a backup plan. There's a way for me to play the slides, You know if the presenter has an issue. Again, the importance of designating a tech support person and providing their information, their cell phone, their e-mail, their WhatsApp, if this is an international group.


You need to make it very easy for your audience to reach out for help. Because a lot of these platforms, say they have support, But, really,  they don't, they don't really offer that kind of rapid response support. So you will have to offer that. Designate to people, to record the meeting. Many cases, you know, you know, with Zoom or various things, someone's connection gets interrupted. And the recording gets lost. And, Oh, no, that recording was so important.


two, people should always record the meeting.


A couple more Tech prep notes. And then we're actually going to move into to Facilitation techniques, Is minimizing the number of platforms that you're using. I only really use three, like, if I'm on a really interactive session, I'll use Zoom for the Video Conferencing Platform. I'll use Google Jamboard, which I'll demo in a moment. It's like a Whiteboard App, but it works a lot better than the Zoom Whiteboard.


You know, and then I will just have my phone, if people need to, reach out, and ask questions, and then things like that. And so, really minimizing the number of platforms.


Be very careful about using Chat to send private conversations. All of that gets recorded, by the way, and so I, you know, I've just seen a lot of ... happen when people send, It might mean to send a private chat, but they send it to the whole group, so, I Wouldn't use that channel for chat? You can use text messages, and I actually will text the facilitators.


You know, if I have certain tips about, you know, what to do in the moment before I'll even use chat.


And so here we are, now, we've got about 10 more minutes, and we're going to talk about facilitation.


I really view facilitation as part design part instruction, and part intuition, and we're going to talk about some of the design and instruction right now, and the intuition is where you sort of use your gut and your knowledge of the group to make some decisions about which collaboration tools are going to use. So, we've touched on this already, making good use of synchronous and asynchronous time, synchronous time happens when we're all together at once, we all put media. You know, the, the calendar invite is on our agenda, We're holding time, we're here. We're present.


Don't use it just to give information or updates, which could absolutely come in, in advance. There, you can, oh, you can send that through e-mail and even you can use asynchronous time to do introductions and networking.


So, if you've got 20 people on the call, it's going to take 30 minutes for every one of them to introduce themselves. You know, and if you're meeting a 60 minutes and then you've achieved nothing and so I even, you know, when it's a, you know, a board or a working group, I will get their bios and advance and their headshots. And we'll send them out to the group in advance. So that we don't have to take time person, by person doing introductions. If the purpose is really to make a particular decision, If the purpose is networking, take all the time you want, right. But make good use of that, asynchronous time, and the materials that can come in before the meeting, so that that meeting time can be really productive, really spent on dialogs and discussions.


You do need to have shorter, more frequent breaks.


And so, if you're in this position now of trying to adapt your in-person conference, or things like that, into a virtual format, the sessions need to be much shorter. And you need to have a lot more breaks, and my trick is to actually schedule breaks that happen. You know? If it's a 15-minute break, you know, we'll meet from 1 to 145, and then there'll be a 15-minute break so that the next session starts on the hour. For some reason, I just really see people starting on the hour.  If you take your break. It's 203. We're gonna meet back here at 207, or 208.


People are going to come back at 2 10, or 215. So my facilitator tip is just to take the break early to start on the hour, and you actually will start on time.


Then it's funny how we gravitate to those whole numbers on the clock, again, I mentioned this with a couple of questions in the Q and A. Make sure that people get a chance to speak in the first 10 minutes. Don't stay muted. Your program staff is giving a presentation. Don't let the board turn off their cameras and their mics and listened silently for 60 minutes. Have questions for them.


Pause for questions. Sure, but also have questions that you can ask them to get them to stay engaged. You could use this for introductions. You could frame ground rules, you could state, you know, personal intentions or purposes. You could have targeted questions about the topic.


You could use icebreakers, I get a lot of questions about icebreakers, and my tips here are to avoid generic and superficial kinds of icebreakers.


I wrote Aim for Creativity and Connection, so, know, I personally don't resonate with, you know, what was your favorite album in eighth grade Or, you know, what's your favorite hobby? I think these things are, I don't know if they're that interesting. I don't know, you know, oh, you like cooking, great, it's like, I don't know if I've really learned anything about you. one of my favorite activities, when working with a group, is to ask them to take NaN to go find an object in their house that represents how they came to be doing the work that they're doing.


Or why they're supporting this cause, and it gets people physically moving and stepping away from their computers. And it gets them to be very creative, because some of them walk back, you know, with a spatula and they have to figure out, you know, how that links to their career or their philanthropic priorities, right? And so, we learn as much about the person, is that person's willing to share. And it's much more creative than just kind of like what are your hobbies, right? So, think about, things like that.


You know, if you have people who are kind of over contributing, no scolding, people in the call are saying, you know, I'm going to cut you off here. You know, we only said NaN for introductions here at 60. I'm going to cut you off. Let's move to the next person. You know, I've seen meetings get facilitated that way And it shut people down, like, right away, people are like, Oh, OK, I better, I'm not gonna say anything now because I'm scared. I don't want to get cut off. And you know, you want people to engage and you want them to feel good about the experience, right?


That's our relationship goals, We don't wanna cut people off and so, instead, praise the people who are doing a great job. So, thanks for keeping us on task you know. Thank you, thank you for you know for you for your candor. Thank you for pointing that out. Thank you for that quick introduction. Way to stick to the 60-minute rule as opposed to scolding people.


So, that's my tactic there and now we're tackling some of the hard stuff. I'm going to give you three different kinds of activities that you can use with your group and you'll need to decide what's going to resonate most with the folks that you're engaging. And so, you know, here, we've got a couple of different tools.


I'm going to see if I can demo some of these real quick to you, know, illume is a great tool that does screen capture, so let me pull this out.


You should be seeing my screen right now.


All right, here we go. So, you know, you can see this image here of what a woman talking. So I send loom videos. This is free, by the way. These are all free tools. I send loom videos in advance, particularly if it's a difficult topic. I want people to see me to know that they're welcome to know who the facilitator is and for you facilitating some of these discussions. It's great to send like a little video through e-mail, you know, saying like Bob, like welcome to the committee. I'm so excited, you know, to hear your input.


That's what loom is good for, know, if you, if you're sensing that an e-mail is going to be too long, send balloon video instead. When you're in the meeting to, I also recommend another free tool for you is meant to meter. This allows you to do word clouds really easily, to just take polls and things like that, and it actually populates it live so people can see on the screen their answers.


And I'm going to demo one more Thing for you are not quite demo. But I had mentioned, see, here we are. Now, you're looking at Google Jamboard. So, again, another free tool.


You have to have a Google account, which I'm sure many of us do, And, you know, you can create a sticky note here, and you can also, you know, use the pen to, you, know, draw or write things. And what I like is you can see this Share button in the top corner.


If I create the settings so that anyone on the Internet can edit this Google Jamboard, all I need to do is pop that link into the chat. And everyone in my meeting, regardless of whether they have a Google account, or, or, you know, whether we're connected on Google or whatnot, can edit, can go into Jamboard and make edits themselves. And so this is a really great way of like, you know, we want to brainstorm some ideas. Let's get in Britain down. Pop the link in, and everyone can participate. And also, if you're if you're if networking is an important component of your event, but you sort of struggle with, like, what are those cool activities, or icebreakers, like the one I talk to you about? There is a free platform called Icebreaker. It's icebreaker dot in video.


And it's free for meetings with under 40 people. And they can provide different templates and games and questions. And they pair people off one-on-one to kind of go through them. So that's another really cool, free thing that you can utilize. Let me go back to my PowerPoint, and I'm actually going to share some activities with you and then we're going to wrap up.


So, we talked about these tools. So tactic one for difficult dialogs and wicked problems would be to make the watercooler conversation part of the meeting.


So, know, we are all in a big room having a particular discussion, maybe not everyone's not contributing. And so we say, OK, we're gonna go into breakout rooms, 2 to 3 people, max. And you give people questions to talk about? The questions could be, how are we really feeling what's going on here, that no one is talking about, what should we change about, how this meeting is being conducted, Have. People talk in groups of 2 or 3, and then they can report back. And this also takes the pressure off of any one person who might be nervous about giving their feedback. And sort of being put on the spot when they talk in a small group. And it comes through the filter of being the group's feedback as opposed to the individuals' feedback. It gets its surface, is some of those points.


Tactic to is the 1 to 4. So a lot of folks really like this. Provide a tough question, like how would you handle the situation, or what ideas do you recommend. Everyone gets one minute for silent self-reflection. Then they get paired into a breakout room of two people where they get two minutes just to talk about their ideas and to sort of build off of them. And then they get four minutes in a pair of four. You know, so the pair of two joins with another pair to share and develop those ideas, and this is a way of really getting every single person to talk and to contribute. You know, if 1, 2, and four minutes is like to quickly, you know, you can change the times, but the point is that they happen in close parameters, You don't give people 30 minutes, you know, and that everyone gets to engage.


The last tactic I have, I'm only giving you a few, there are hundreds but I'm just giving you a few As part of this is kind of a mock debate and so you divide participants into groups of three, you could put them in three breakout rooms. one group argues for one side, one group argues for the other and the third group is the judge of the winning argument. Participants don't get to choose their groups. And so, this is an important empathy-building strategy if you have, like, for instance, people on a board or committee who are really divided, and they can't quite see other people's perspectives.


You make them argue for the group who has the opposite viewpoint, and that is, that is something that you can do, and then, you know, the winner of the argument. It doesn't mean you're going to act on the decision, it's more of an empathy-building exercise, and so that's the other one. I wanna ask you before we sign off, because we're just about time, and I will stick around for questions. What was the most helpful thing you've learned today? I would love to see you're answering the questions box. Go ahead and pop that in. And while you're getting them in, I'm going to read a question from Jennifer. Any advice on when to use breakout rooms during the meeting?


When I tried to use them after our main speaker, people just just leave and skip the breakout. Yes, so a couple of things there. one, they may not know that they were going to be meeting in a breakout room.


They may have thought that this was going to be something they could just sit back and watch, and maybe they're surprised now that they actually have to engage with the content. So, make sure that they know that that's part of the experience and that they're excited about it. Because something, not, everyone wants a highly participatory kind of experience.


I like to use them, you know, in the middle. And at the end, if you go into a breakout room, too soon, like 5 or 10 minutes, it can sort of feel like I didn't really get the content that I needed. But let's say you have, you know, an hour-long experience. I might do a breakout room at about 25 to 30 minutes, and then I may do another one in closing. You know, or not? It depends on how much there is to discuss. But I like to aim for that kind of zero point five or zero point seventy-five media and in the experience. Otherwise, it's too quick. Or if it comes, you know, way at the end people, you know, people just kinda sign off. So, I'm gonna look through some of your comments. Yeah, the strategies, The free tools. The breakout rooms oh, thank you so much.


Doing updates through e-mail. Yeah? Yes. Thank you. Oh, I'm reading, like, so many great things in here.


I have like, 1 or two more slides, and then we can wrap things up. But, the trick here, this is, this is the section on how to move things forward after the meeting ends, and it's a, it's a trick section. Because, actually, you want to clarify the next steps and action items before the meeting ends. You also wanna make sure to get feedback before the meeting concludes.


So you saw, I just did an example of that right here by asking for some of your feedback before our time here ended, you know, people will follow up, and they will do the survey. Not all of them will. Not all of them will be prompt, and so you really just want to get their buy-in, and their commitment. Before the meeting is over. You want to get their feedback before it's over.


You know, you could ask, like, if you could change one thing about this, what would it be? And, you know, you want to get some documentation, You know, I have a one-page summary. I think the template is in your charity, how to library decisions, insight's actions deadlines, that's it.


I know you have to take very robust meeting minutes, and then there are some requirements for that with boards, but not many people really read the meeting minutes in that detail. So I just send out a one-page summary. And so, at the templates online, I just wanna say, you've got this, like, you've been doing it. I hope you've learned some new tools and techniques that you can apply to kind of improve your virtual engagement.


I'm gonna go ahead. And, if you have questions that I didn't answer, please e-mail me. I do respond to every e-mail that I get. I'm going to turn it over to Marcela who's going to say a couple of quick things about the survey, and then I will stick on for another few minutes and ask some questions.


Wonderful. Thanks, Cal Yogi. So yes, about the short survey that will pop up. We thank you in advance for taking the minute, it'll take to complete. Just know that that survey is anonymous, but we take under consideration everything you have to say about today's session so that we can improve our content. So thank them. Thanks, again.


And the other thing is that if you liked this webinar, or you have attended any other of our webinars and you've liked what you've learned, feel free to submit a short video testimonial about your learning experience to the link that I posted into the questions box just a few minutes ago. Videos, that charity, how to dot com for a chance to win Silver membership subscription. If you don't know what that is, it'll give you access to any and all of our recorded products, micro-lessons and recorded webinars, plus you will get, you will be gifted with a premium webinar, live one, for your choice. You just let us know the name of the webinar or you'd like to attend along with the date, and we will register for you without cost. Thanks again for joining us today, and tell you, I'll be back to you.


Oh, great. Thanks so much, Marcella. I'm going to stick on for a few minutes. We've got some questions from Corey and Dwight Cory, advice on people who don't like to volunteer to speak. Got some great ideas.


We talked about some strategies, you know, this, so one is to actually call on them, but the second thing is, is also to offer them a chance to offer their perspectives and viewpoints, either before the meeting or after the meeting. I know that in some cultural contexts, people are very hesitant to share their opinions if they don't know how those opinions are going to be received, and so Sometimes if you have a really persistent issue and you call on somebody saying, you know, query, could you please share, you know, quote unquote? He says, you know, Oh, I'm good. Yeah, I have nothing to add, right? I reach out to that person before and just say, Here are the things we're going to be talking about, You know, the agenda, You know, you know, what do you think about it? Is there any, you know, any questions you have, any insight you want me to get across during the meeting.


I might also follow up at the end afterwards, if it's really important that you engage this person and get their feedback, But they're not the type to want to talk in the meeting. Those are some other strategies to accommodate them. Otherwise, I actually call on people, I make sure to offer them the chance and that they know I'm listening for them. And we've got a question from Dwight about recurring meetings. Are they advise simple? Any specific advice for these? Yeah, so, you know I would actually take it back to the group. I'm sure you've probably been having recurring meetings. I'm sure a lot of you do. I would take it back to the group and say, all right. We've been doing this for awhile.


What's your advice and feedback on this? So, you have to have an agenda. There's, you shouldn't meet just because it's on the calendar. If you don't have an agenda, you know, 1 to 2 days out. The meaning gets canceled. If you don't have any, you know, urgent action items, if there's not stuff for people to do, after the meetings over, if they are just updates, the meeting gets canceled. You know, it should just be an e-mail. When people are reading their e-mails, especially, you know, this is your staff, you know, they are. They are reading the e-mails. And so, the purpose of gathering needs to be to enact some kind of change. What we want people to do after this meeting. What are they going to do with the information we're discussing? And if there's there isn't information like that on the table. It gets canceled and if you find that you're having to cancel a lot of these, maybe the recurring structure isn't working.


And, it should be more of, like, a check in e-mail that goes to the group once a month, or once a quarter, you know, that says, Hi, everyone, how's everyone doing? You know, do we need to have a meeting? But, I would go back to the group two and ask them how, how it's been working for them.


I think we've got a couple more questions. Yeah, actually, we just got some feedback from Gwen. To answer Droids question. We said action items before the meeting ends. But often they aren't met. Oh, it is a question, how do we make sure that the action items are met? Deadlines don't seem to help, it very much depends on the accountability that you have in place.


If this is staff, I like to make sure that, you know, of course, whoever is the supervisor of the staff knows what the actions items are. They know that that's the expectation.


If we're regularly asking program folks, for instance, to do things that are outside of their job descriptions, and they don't do them. And so, if the program team isn't, like giving me stories, you know, to share with donors, or it's kinda like pulling teeth to get them. I know there's a third party now. I work with the organization to make sure that those things are actually in their job description, that, that, you know, working with the development staff is part of what they're expected to do as part of their role. It creates more accountability. Now, if you're talking about board members are volunteers, it's a little bit harder, because you don't have those same accountability practices in place.


So, one of them is to actually have other kinds of, I don't want to quite say meetings, but other opportunities that sort of hold them accountable. So, for instance, here's our meeting. We all have some action items, like, for instance, provide a list of 10 donors. You're going to invite to the event. The deadline, you know, comes and goes, Nobody provides that list.


But, you have another meeting on the calendar, three weeks out to go over the lists. And, it might be a one-on-one, and might not be, you know, a group of Board members, then, it might be one-on-one, And so, then, you can say, as the dates coming up, you know, Like, Hello, Gwen! You know, I didn't get your list. You know, on Friday. However. We've got our meeting coming up this Thursday to go over the list of the 10 folks you were going to provide. I look forward to that list. You have any questions.


You need support, and just have those things in place so that, you know, you don't feel like you're scolding them, but you are holding them accountable to the action items that they said they were going to do right, and just make sure that you get buy in and commitment during the meeting. So that is all of my advice. Thank you so much for sticking around. I know we went a couple of minutes over, but I hope you got some great content from this, And I look forward to seeing you in another CharityHowTo course.


Thank you so much. Thanks, everyone. Have a wonderful rest of your day. Stay safe and healthy. And we hope to see you soon again.