In the last almost 2 months things have changed in more drastic ways than most of us have experienced in our lifetimes and they continue to change on an almost daily basis. As we are learning to adapt to change, it can be a little uncomfortable and inconvenient but it is important to remember that not all change is bad and that most change can be on opportunity rather than adversity. Some of us are working remotely and perhaps feel a little disconnected and that’s okay and understandable right now. Or maybe, you are like many of my clients who planned big conferences with thousands of people attending and now they are scrambling to transition their events to a virtual setting. I am here to share some benefits that you can consider as well as share with others who are making similar decisions. As groups begin to explore their options for their upcoming meetings and conferences and have to decide between postponing, rescheduling, transition to virtual, I am here to encourage you and let you know, it doesn’t have to be a stressful task. In fact, it can be a positive opportunity you may not have otherwise considered.
First, let's define what a virtual meeting actually is:
A virtual meeting is a meeting in which people are connected through online tools without the limitations of location.
Now, let's explore some benefits of a virtual meeting
- Ability to maximize budgets and limit risk
While it’s not an in-person meeting, it can still create and boost positive connections. I am learning to use Zoom like all of you and it honestly does save time and money. Physical meetings require time and money to travel, hotel costs, tipping, flights, food and other conference facilities, etc. Continuing to use online meeting software to conduct virtual meetings can save an organization a great deal of money. It also limits the risk of transmitting germs or having to cancel or reschedule. If your organization hosts meetings that people normally pay to attend by offering a virtual option you are allowing more people to attend and participate because they will not be limited by cost or time. You also may be able to secure speakers or other experts at a lower fee then you would normally pay for an in person appearance and therefore enhance the value of the meeting and quality of experience for all attendees.
- No long lines or awkwardness if you have to need to step away for a minute
I just finished doing a virtual session for an amazing organization and when I was done, all I had to do was walk 10 feet to the restroom. Have you ever been in a meeting and had to go really “REALLY” bad, but you didn’t want to get up during the presentation or make noise. If you are not leading the meeting, you can get up and go any time you need and return quickly…just wash your hands. Maybe grab a beverage also. If you are wearing AirPods, you can still listen in (be sure to mute yourself) and you will not even miss any important information.
- A virtual meeting or presentation can be less scary
Some people love getting up and speaking to groups of people and others cringe at having to stand up and speak through a microphone. Speaking into a camera virtually can be less stressful and actually more calming for effective communication. Just do the best you can, nobody will judge you. There is a little more grace and understanding when you are speaking to a group of people virtually.
- Playback Possibilities and Presentation Features
Most virtual software allows you to record the meeting or presentation, so those who could not attend can watch later. And if it’s really awesome, you can go back and rewatch for continued education and inspiration. If you participated in the meeting you can utilize this playback as an opportunity to watch and see which ways you can improve for next time.
Many virtual software programs also allow you to communicate with whiteboard features, which allow you to draw and enter on the screen to allow you to sketch and type annotations. Text chat features allow easy interaction for questions and answers, polls, opinion sharing, web site sharing, and other real-time information. There are some really cool features only available virtually that can create instant feedback and engagement. And you don’t need to be a techy to know how to do this. You can look up videos on Youtube that simplify things for you and enable you to make the most of the software's features or you can watch instructional videos provided by the virtual software you are using.
- More flexibility
This is huge! If you are trying to plan a conference or a big time meeting for your organization, consider spreading it out over a few weeks. I just keynoted a conference yesterday, but am closing out their event in 2 weeks. My client spread out the breakouts and different sessions over a few weeks instead of trying to cram it all into one day which allows for more flexibility and ability to retain important information. And let’s be real, nobody wants to sit all day watching a computer screen. That’s not healthy. A little bit here and there works wonders. And, if you have kids and other projects going on, this flexibility is very helpful.
- Improve and strengthen relationships
For almost every physical meeting there are always be a few people for are unable to attend Hosting a virtual session allows you to connect with people all over the world in an instant. That is how we nurture connections. Sure it’s a little different, but instead of canceling your big meeting….why not build on those connections by doing the best you can with what you have available and what is safe and convenient for everyone.
To sum things up, I love attending in person meetings. As a speaker and author, I attend close to 100 events a year, so adjusting to no travel and no audience in front of me while I speak is a big change for me. Instead of focusing on what is bad about the change or what we cannot control, it’s better to focus on the positive – trying something new, being safe, and still being able to connect with others in an effective and affordable way. I am sure you can think of more positives and if you do, I would love to hear from you.
Sam Glenn is an award winning motivational speaker, author and performance artist who captivates and inspires audiences in person and virtually. To learn more about Sam Glenn, visit is website: www.SamGlennBooks.com.