It Takes Two to Zoom: Why Standards for Facilitating Meetings are Changing
Zoom Tech Hosts are the new standard
If there’s one big takeaway for online meetings that I want to share, it’s this: Don’t run an important Zoom meeting by yourself.
You can be the very best in-person meeting facilitator or meeting chair, but if you try to do it all yourself in an online environment – you’re not serving the group to the best of your ability.
Instead, expect to share the roles and share the work. It will lead to better online meeting experiences. Motivate inside your organization for more people to be trained, and bring in expertise where needed – this will help you lead.
Every online meeting needs a minimum of two people: a facilitator to focus on the needs of the group, and a technical Zoom host to run the platform and create an engaging online environment.
Online Meeting Roles: Include a Tech Host
Here’s how you can create a better meeting environment: consider that the best online meetings may have these roles at minimum:
- A Facilitator or Chair
- A Zoom Technical Host (to run the platform, visuals, breakout rooms and troubleshoot)
- A Chat Moderator (may be run by the Tech Host)
- A Timekeeper
- A Minute Taker
Let’s say that you are the Facilitator. Start by identifying a second, co-host role for all things technical: this person is the Zoom Technical Host. A Zoom Tech Host focuses on making the online environment work smoothly for the participants and the group facilitator.
Then, ensure there’s a Timekeeper, then delegate this role and rotate it.
Same with Minute-Taking: delegate the role and rotate it. (Ahem, cis men, take your turn.)
The chat can be a useful and engaging part of your meeting, or it might derail what you’re trying to accomplish, so the Facilitator and Tech Host should talk about how to manage the chat function. Determine what parameters will be used for the chat, and if the Tech Host will respond, or if this should be the role of a third person (the Chat Moderator).
Also, if it is a workshop with sensitive content, you may want someone to provide culturally safe care, an ombudsperson, or a peer counsellor who is available via chat or text.
Job Description for a Zoom Tech Facilitator
The group experiences the Zoom Technical Host as a visible, helpful and skillful presence. The Tech Host enables people in the session to participate, engage easily, and enjoy the online environment.
Think back to a time when you were dropped from a meeting but someone helped you get back into your breakout room, or someone made sure you could screen share your powerpoint seamlessly, or there was nice music playing on the break – all of that was the role of the Zoom Tech Whiz (I mean tech host).
Meanwhile, the facilitator was paying attention to the nuances of the group conversation and key questions without interruptions.
The Tech Host enables the process facilitator to focus on the group – and together, the facilitation team leads the group to achieve their outcomes.
Zoom Technical Host Job Description
- Fluent in using Zoom settings: muting, meeting invitations, meeting security, break out rooms;
- Works with the process/group facilitator before the meeting to review the technical needs for different points in the meeting (small group work, different outside online tools) and builds in backup plans as needed;
- Assists attendees in joining the meeting to ensure their equipment is functioning;
- Sets up different types of breakout rooms (before and during the meeting);
- Assists attendees in navigating the online tools used during the session (eg slides, collaboration documents, chat, other tools as needed);
- Manages the chat for technical questions;
- Troubleshoots under pressure with a calm presence;
- Gives clear instructions out loud where needed;
- Ensures reports and recordings are uploaded after the meeting;
- Support the process facilitator during the meeting;
- Has access to fast, reliable internet and ideally is hard-wired.
Zoom Tech Host Qualities
- Wise understanding of group dynamics;
- Great technical skills with Zoom and interested in online learning environments;
- Comfortable multi-tasking throughout the meeting;
- Experience in facilitation, so you are familiar with key processes, workshop agenda items, basic workshop/training vocabulary; understanding of how different workshop activities can be adapted to online environments along with the process facilitator
- Willing to try and learn new things
- Balance of being very prepared, with being flexible when technology gremlins take over
Basically, five years ago, if you asked me to anticipate that we’d be running train-the-trainers for online technical meeting facilitation – I would have said those are jobs that haven’t been invented yet. But they have been invented, and online technical meeting hosts are going to be needed more than ever.
Resources for Even Better Zoom Experiences
Video chat hacks to try from CNET: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-use-zoom-like-a-pro-13-video-chat-hacks-to-try-at-your-next-meeting/
Beth Couglar Blom’s tips that you still might not know about Zoom: https://bethcouglerblom.com/12-things-you-may-still-not-know-about-zoom
Consider Live Captioning for Meetings and Web Conferences: https://www.vitac.com/services/caption-integrations/live-captioning-for-audio-video-meetings-and-web-conferences/
Reach Out – We Can Help!
Let’s work together to help your meetings reach the next level with facilitation and Zoom tech support. We can team up with you for your staff meeting, workshop, training, or important event… even if it’s small or big. We can also do 1:1 training for building capacity, and lead trainings for your staff. Stay tuned for workshop offerings! Find us at firstname.lastname@example.org.