We talk a lot about meeting members where they are, but usually in the context of talking to them about your benefits based on where they are in life or their career.

Well today, let’s talk about meeting members where they are literally with online meetings. 

Now, these days, online meetings are the norm. But, we see value in continuing to offer all-online meetings with members — or at least the option to join certain meetings online — now and into the future. Why?

For one, it’ll make those meetings more accessible to members who have tight schedules or live far away. It’ll also demonstrate that your organization is forward-thinking and ready (and excited!) to use technology to your advantage.

Here’s our checklist for ensuring that your online meetings run smoothly:

  1. Use technology that makes the most sense. There are platforms as basic (and free) as Google Hangouts and ones that have all the bells and whistles like Zoom. Do a little research to find one that has all you need and will fit your budget.
  2. Have a staff member join as an attendee. It’ll be really helpful to have someone on staff sit in on the attendee’s end so someone can see (and hear!) exactly what your members are experiencing and to keep an eye out for any issues.
  3. Create a dedicated space — physically and virtually. A conference room, an open space for larger groups, or someone’s office…wherever it may be, try to keep the environment that members will be seeing consistent.

    Similarly, you may want to keep the livestream, recordings, resources, etc. from all of your meetings in one place, like a learning management system. Consistency is key here, too! Members will need to know where to go for each meeting — and, giving all of the important content surrounding these meetings a “home base” is more opportunity to engage members who would like to revisit it, or view it for the first time if they weren’t able to attend live.

  4. Give yourself extra time to set up. Set aside 15-20 minutes before each meeting to get everything running correctly. If there are any hiccups, you’ll be able to fix them before members start joining. (As you start getting more comfortable, you’ll only need 5-10 min.)
  5. Come up with some online meeting “rules.” A few conduct standards will help ensure it’s a good experience for everyone. For example, asking members to stay on mute unless they’re talking and, if it’s a hybrid virtual/in-person meeting, having presenters repeat questions that are asked in the room.
  6. Plan ahead for online engagement. You always want those joining remotely to feel that their presence is just as valuable as those who’ve joined in person. And, if the meeting is all-online, you need to find a way to add a little energy overall. At the very least, encourage virtual attendees to share their camera, and give them an avenue for submitting questions and comments either during the meeting or ahead of time. Go above and beyond with activities like trivia, roundtable discussions, prize drawings, etc.
  7. Give your members a checklist for success, too! Once you become an online meeting expert (and trust us, you’ll be an expert in no time if you aren’t already) put together some best practices so that your virtual attendees have the best experience possible and continue to engage!

Opening your meetings up to be hosted all-online — or at least making online attendance an option — can really make a difference in member engagement. Looking for more ways to boost member engagement as a whole? Download our ultimate guide below!

This post was originally published 4/2/2019; updated for added value.