Video conferencing platforms became important work tools for almost every company during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and will continue to be commonly used in the workplace as we enter 2021, with many working remotely or in some type of hybrid model. While nothing will 100% replace the value of in-person meetings, virtual meetings can be extremely effective for holding customer advisory board discussions, collecting feedback and closing the loop on previous advice heard. Here are six lessons Farland Group has learned over the past year of facilitating customer advisory boards in a virtual environment.
- Holding shorter sessions more frequently over the course of the year allowed for customer advisory boards to cover the same amount of material that would be covered in-person, while keeping topics relevant and timely. Feedback from multiple customer advisory boards suggests that virtual meetings not exceed three hours in duration in order to avoid “Zoom fatigue” or wandering attention.
- Shorter meetings require agenda realignment. As Farland Group President and Founder, Jane Hiscock, described in her blog, assessing what areas of discussion or topics are of highest priority for both your clients and your company will help you to realign the meeting’s agenda topics.
- Preparation is vital to the success of a virtual customer advisory board meeting. This includes speaker preparation and presentation reviews, as well as identifying where to collect client input, and preparation of the facilitator by speaking with Board members in advance to understand how they feel about the topics being presented.
- Keep your audience in mind when building presentations for optimal client engagement. Avoiding the use of extremely technical language is a good general practice.
- It is important to supply clients with pre-reading materials in advance of virtual meetings in order to help them prepare for engaging and active dialogue during the meeting.
- Enabling the chat feature during speaker presentations is a great way to receive real-time feedback and provides another avenue for client engagement.
What lessons has your organization learned this year in utilizing virtual meetings? Let me know if you find any of these lessons helpful, and also if you feel I’ve missed a lesson worth sharing. Good luck in 2021 with your own virtual customer advisory board meetings!