What Makes for a Successful Zoom Meeting?
John Yates is a long-time friend in the Atlanta technology community. I’ve watched him build his practice over the last thirty-five years. He started with a handful of big vision, infrequently paying, early-stage tech companies. Today Morris, Manning & Martin is the center of technology law in the Southeast.
He did it by volunteering his time to build our community. John was everywhere, involved in every meaningful project from idea stage to delivery. He showed me the way of community development. The truth is, I just could not keep up with him. He is a unique blend of ambition and servant-leadership.
John is a great success. And now I know another one of his secrets of success. He asks people for help. I am sure he has no idea how much of an impact he’s had on me. And all he did was call and say, “Would you help me?”
And you know what he wants me to help him with? How he might get better at facilitating Zoom meetings. He said, “You do a really good job at your Paparelli Zoom Chats for Entrepreneurs. Please share with me what you learned.”
How I Prepare
Here is my quick guide to facilitating a Zoom meeting. I developed this list, and continue to develop it, through practice and studying the professional broadcasters.
There are three main elements you must get right.
The physical setup - The objective here is to ensure there are no distractions.
The facilitator - Get your person right.
The interview - Get to the content the audience needs and deserves.
The Physical Setup
HD camera properly positioned
Microphone for exceptional sound quality
Good lighting. Natural lighting is best
Nice shirt - no stripes or plaids
Good posture - lean forward, no sitting back
Be steady - not a lot of movement, including no hand motions
Enthusiasm - be 30% more excited than you would normally be
Remember, you are the representative of the audience.
The interview is about the guest and not you.
Ask short, simple questions. No complex or multi-part questions.
Be prepared - do research, get the flow of the interview settled before you go live.
Stay on the topic. Never wander off the topic, and always keep the guest on the topic.
Talk is limited to two minutes max. Never allow the guest (or you) to drone on. A good test - when you begin losing interest, step in and summarize or ask another question.
Provide a clear introduction to the interview - be short, personal, and to the point. Personal is important. It shows you know the guest, respect them, and like them. If you like them, the audience will like them.
Give the audience the topic two times before starting the interview.
Begin with softball questions to get the guest comfortable and talking freely.
Summarize from time to time to bring the audience back into the interview and break the cycle.
Challenge the guest and be personal. Ask the questions that must be asked. Dig deep but be respectful. If you have a question that pops into your head based on what the guest said, then you can be sure the audience is interested.
Share your own short stories on a key point to help the audience remember it and stay interested. Be mindful of rule #2.
Thank the guest at the end of the program. Make it personal. Sincerely appreciate him/her.
Summarize for your audience what you learned from this interview. How did it affect or change you?
Become a student of interviewing. Watch the pros on TV or in the popular podcasts. Look and listen for details in all they do.
Do interviews. Use this list of tips and improve upon it.
Always get a post-interview critique by someone whom you trust and who knows the medium.