How do you structure your meetings?

By Anne M. Baker and Erica Tobe from MSU Extension

Online meetings should follow the same best practices as regular meetings. Have an agenda. Have desired outcomes. Have someone in charge of facilitation. Have someone taking notes. Set ground rules for the meetings for acceptable behavior. This last one is especially important so that those participating in online meetings are not multi-tasking when you want them paying attention. While that also happens in face-to-face meetings, it is even easier to get distracted by other work and email on your computer while in an online meeting. 

How many people attend zoom meetings?

Everyone is our organization attends Zoom meetings. It is a regular part of life for us. We’ve had as few as two or as many as 150 or more. The catch is, the more you get, the less interactive it tends to be.

How many people attend zoom trainings?

Much of our training is online. Some is done through asynchronous materials in Desire2Learn or videos. Some is done as synchronous training online through Zoom or through the use of zoom webinar. 

How often? (for the above 2)

Most employees have meetings multiple times a week over Zoom.  While we regularly offer trainings online or over Zoom, it is hard to document the frequency as the majority of online training is not mandatory. We certainly offer various trainings via Zoom on a monthly basis.

Why is zoom effective for your teams?

Our teams are spread out geographically but still must collaborate. Zoom is a necessity for MSU Extension. The ability to share screen and use video allows for better communication than teleconferencing. Video lets you read body language and create a better connection. Screen sharing allows us to share documents, presentations, etc.

What are the potential drawbacks to consider?

Participants are more tempted to multi-task during an online meeting. Set an expectation that participants won’t. Having participants turn on their video will usually discourage multi-tasking as well.

Highlight kudos?

To build community, we often start with kudos or shoutouts to colleagues who we wish to thank or acknowledge.

Do you have zoom meeting or training tips (like using video, setting time aside for zoom without distractions, etc.?

If you are going to use it a lot, install the Microsoft Outlook Zoom plugin to make scheduling Zoom meetings easier. If you will host many meetings, use the setting to always use “Personal Meeting ID” for meetings you will host; if you set “Personal Meeting ID” to be your phone number, it is then easy to remember. Also use the option to allow participants to join before host so your colleagues aren’t waiting for you to join to begin. In the web version (not the app), look through the options under your Profile and under Settings to find these and other useful features.
While in a meeting, use the video unless the connection is spotty. If you don’t have a great internet connection or your audio is cutting in and out, then turn video off to improve audio quality.
For training, the breakout rooms and polling features are extremely useful to allow for more audience engagement. For larger groups (perhaps more than 10), ask that participants stay muted until they want to talk. You can also make a change in your settings to automatically mute all participants joining a meeting, and this is wise for meetings with many attendees.
If you want a record of who is on a Zoom, such as for a training, have participants register for the meeting. For training, you can also add questions to the registration process so you can gather information from participants on what they already know about the topic, want to learn, etc.

What do you like about zoom? What features, etc.

Breakout rooms, polling features, the ability to record, and the touch up appearance features! You can dial in by phone and/or use the video feature. Both options are great for audiences.

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