What it takes to run a great virtual meeting from the farm

During these unprecedented times, we are all being asked to make changes to our day-to-day lives and farmers like you are no exception. Although food and fiber production is a very essential job and it’s critical to continue the food production cycle, it’s also important to modify your day-to-day business in order to protect yourself, your family and others in your community. There’s a possibility that in-person meetings with teams, customers or suppliers may be canceled for weeks, making virtual meetings the new normal.

One simple way to replicate your previously scheduled in-person meetings is to meet virtually with your business partners using one of the easy-to-use, inexpensive technologies available. Granular uses Zoom, a free video conferencing tool, but by no means is that an endorsement. Find the tool that works best for you and your farm.

Granular customer Eric Ebelhar from Pasture Belt Farms in Kentucky says that for him, Zoom and WhatsApp have been helpful when it comes to meeting virtually.

“The biggest positive of Zoom and technologies like it is that you’re able to see the person on video rather than just a voice on the phone. There’s a lot you can tell just by someone’s reactions to things — so if you can’t be in person it’s the next best thing,” he said.

Below you can find tips to run your virtual meetings more effectively.

Use video:

People feel like they are all in the “same” meeting when they can see each other’s faces. Technology – such as Zoom, Skype or Facetime – helps to personalize the conversation and keeps attendees engaged. Virtual meetings are more effective when people can see each other’s facial expressions and body language, recreating some of the benefits of in-person meetings.

Always provide an audio dial-in option:

Strong internet connections might not always be available to participants, especially in rural communities. It’s important to provide the ability to participate via audio as a secondary option if low internet connectivity prevents using webcams.

Minimize meeting length:

Virtual meetings should parallel what typically happens during in-person meetings. They should be discussions, and should provide the opportunity for back-and- forth conversation versus a long presentation. Prioritize the conversation to maximize the time people are looking at each other to ensure that the goals of the meeting are met.

Don’t be afraid to tackle tough issues:

Virtual meetings may be the new normal for the foreseeable future. Getting comfortable with meeting virtually takes a bit of practice, but once you become accustomed to working this way, you may be amazed to see how effective meeting from afar can be. It may seem natural to wait to discuss tough issues until you’re able to meet in person, but that may not be an option. Don’t shy away from controversial topics — open, upfront and honest communication is the best leveler to ensure that the team is on the same page and marching in lockstep towards the same goals.

Granular is committed to helping farmers use technology to run stronger businesses, especially during these trying times. We are happy to Zoom with you, whether it’s to perfect your Zoom skills, or help you with your ag technology. Contact us at 888-435-4726.

If you think Zoom would be a good fit for your operation, below are some steps to help you get started:
Desktop: https://zoom.us/download
Mobile:

Download Zoom for iPhone
Download Zoom for Android

Create a Free Zoom account to Schedule/Lead meetings

  1. Click sign up to create a FREE account if you don’t already have one
  2. You will be sent an email to verify your account (this may take several minutes)
  3. Click on the link to verify your account
  4. Sign in to Zoom
  5. Schedule a date/time for the meeting and send an email invite with the meeting link and password to the person you want to meet with. Or, start a new meeting and invite others to join you

Joining a Zoom meeting

  1. Click on the meeting link in your email invite to open Zoom
  2. Enter in the meeting passcode if prompted
  3. Check that your audio and webcam connection are on/off as appropriate

Zoom Tools & Tips

  • Mute – Be sure to click mute when on the line with multiple people and you are not talking
  • Video – In areas of low internet/WiFi speed, try turning off the video and just using the audio connection
  • Share – Use this tool to share content from your computer or mobile device
  • Participants – Use this to see who is on the call
  • Record – If you organize the meeting, you can click record to record the meeting. Be mindful to let other participants know you will be recording the discussion
  • Background – If using webcam, be mindful of what’s behind you. If others are in the room with you, let them know you’re going to be on webcam

Zoom Troubles?

Visit the Zoom support page here  to get the latest on troubleshooting.

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