hosting online meetings with members

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 literally are with online meetings. There are so many great tools for hosting online meetings that there’s really no reason NOT to host some (if not all) of your meetings with the opportunity to join remotely. 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 can keep up with trends. And, it shows members you’re willing to be accommodating and allow them to join from wherever they’re most comfortable.

Hosting online meetings can quickly become the norm at your organization, you just have to start! Don’t be intimidated: 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. For the first couple, have a staff member join as an attendee. Until you get into a good flow, it’ll be really helpful to have someone on staff sit in on the other end. That way they can see (and hear!) exactly what your remote members are experiencing.

3. Create a dedicated space. A conference room, an open space for larger groups, or someone’s office…wherever it may be, try to keep similar meetings in the same spot so that once you nail down the technology and the experience, it’ll stay consistent.

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 remote members to stay on mute unless they’re talking and having presenters repeat questions that are asked in the room.

6. Plan ahead for how you’re going to engage remote members. You always want remote members to feel that their engagement is just as valuable as those who’ve joined in person – but it may take a little more thought. At the very least, encourage them to share their camera, and give them an avenue for submitting questions and comments either during the meeting or ahead of time.

7. Give your members a checklist, too! Once you become an online meeting expert (and trust us, you’ll be an expert in no time) put together some best practices so that your remote members have the best experience possible, and continue to engage!

Opening your meetings up to remote members can really make a difference in member engagement. To be honest, that’s why we decided to host our Q2 training event virtually. We wanted to make sure that at least once a year, YOU (and your fellow staff) have the opportunity to attend in-depth database training sessions at a low cost, from wherever you’re most comfortable.