Tips for organizing large interactive Zoom sessions

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Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

At Insight, we regularly organize and run large interactive Zoom meetings that include several back-to-back breakout sessions. Below are a few quick tips to remember to ensure that your large group Zoom meetings run smoothly and gain more engagement:

A structured agenda is key

  • Prepare a clear agenda and share it with participants prior to the meeting. Managing large group Zoom meetings can be more challenging than similarly-sized in-person meetings, so you’ll want to provide even more structure than you’re used to giving — this means concise intros, clear sections and timing, and succinct conclusions.
  • Be sure to build in buffer time for transitions. Incorporating a series of brief breakouts for substantial smaller-group work can be difficult given the time lost in order to move participants into and out of Zoom Breakout Rooms. Building buffer time into your meeting agenda will help you avoid running out of time.

Make roles explicit right at the start

  • If you are the host, it’s important to begin the meeting with a clear introduction of who will be presenting, and in what order.
  • Remember to assign notetakers prior to the meeting beginning.
  • Pre-assign one (or more) meeting facilitator(s) and let participants know at the start that they will be helping to surface questions and/or issues through the Chat or Q&A features.

Take team engagement seriously

  • Just like in person, people need to know what level of participation is desired. Are they just there to listen? Or should they be encouraged to ask questions or participate in discussion? Make your expectations clear and encourage the use of specific methods, like Zoom’s Chat or Q&A features. While full team participation can be difficult and disruptive over video when it’s a large group, these features will allow attendees to ask questions, share their thoughts, and give you a quick snapshot of the group’s state. You can also save the chat and review all of the responses more thoroughly later.
  • If you have multiple or recurring meetings arranged, be aware of the people who join late, or not at all. During in-person meetings, there is social pressure to join a room on-time, and those who join late are very visible. Be sure to follow up with these people to address the issue.
  • After completing your Zoom session, follow up with key stakeholders to get their feedback on how it went and what may require further attention. If these are recurring meetings, this will give you the opportunity to make improvements for your next session.

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