Get the Most out of Virtual Meetings

Few people are raving fans of virtual meetings, but those are going to be the “new normal” for many companies for the foreseeable future.

This prohibition likely includes frequent media roundtable discussions. Communications professionals can complain about it or learn how to get the most out of their virtual meetings.

Teleconferencing may not feel like the ideal option, but it is still a powerful tool to make connections, share messages, and develop relationships with key media figures and other influencers.

There are multiple, tangible benefits of getting past the reluctance to use the medium and embracing teleconferencing as a method of making, building, and cultivating media connections.

Practically, geography is no longer an issue when planning media conferences using teleconferencing software.

As long as time zone differences are considered, brands can connect in real-time with media sources well outside their local area.

In doing so, communications pros can reinforce their status as go-to resources for opinion-makers across multiple market sectors.

While the basic approach to virtual meetings shares many similarities to in-person meetings, some dynamics are different or should be emphasized differently, taking the limits and benefits of the medium into consideration.

Plan ahead and follow these guidelines to create a reasonable expectation for success:

First, give the media sources and influencers a good, specific reason to be there. No one likes meetings, and media people are not interested in wasting time being pitched topics that hold no interest.

Be sure the meeting theme is specific, timely, and topical, or the media professional is likely to decline this invitation and the next one too.

Cultivate an atmosphere of exclusivity.

Don’t cast a wide net for every meeting. Target specific media and influencers in specific markets for particular topics. Give those who have earned your trust an edge and an advantage in the form of timed exclusivity.

Keep the energy up by encouraging interaction.

Create interest and invite discussion. Ask leading questions and request specific feedback and follow-ups. Keep everyone at the meeting engaged.

If you just want to pitch, that could be done in an email or with a phone call. These roundtables should be about more than that.

Communicate and meet time expectations. If the invitation says the meeting will last an hour, start the “thank yous” at minute 58.

Make sure to finish on time and schedule.

They will appreciate the consideration, and they will remember it.

Don’t wing it. Over the past several months, countless meetings have been plagued by hosts who were unfamiliar with the teleconferencing platform’s features.

Many thought they had it down but did not realize the user interface or process had been tweaked, leading to frustration and wasted time. So, simply put, make sure to practice.

Check the lighting, the camera angles, the setup, and the platform operations.

Conduct walk-throughs so the introduction, welcomes, and closings go smoothly. If the meeting involves panelists, make sure all their equipment is working, and their setup will be comfortable and complimentary.

Troubleshoot everything. And, finally, appraise your panelists of any appropriate topics and talking points to include or exclude.

Clue them in on what the media representatives are likely to ask.

Before the meeting, connect with all participants to establish protocols and set expectations.

Let them know not just what’s being discussed, but also what’s being offered, and how it will be communicated.

Then, select a moderator to manage these protocols, keep participants engaged, and keep the conversation topical and productive.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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