Tips for running a successful virtual appraisal meeting
- Make sure you’re familiar with the IT, see previous section
- Arrange a mutually convenient time with the appraisee
- Several days before the virtual meeting send out the date, time, and invite; including the dial in code and password
- Have their mobile number, and your phone accessible – just in case the IT fails
- Start setting up about 15 minutes before the start time to allow for set up and last minute glitches. Adjust the light, preferably do not have a bright window behind you which will put your face in darkness. Ensure your face is appropriately positioned in the middle of the screen
- Some Appraisers have done a brief test run with the appraisee a few days before, to check the IT works
- Uninterrupted time and space. Have a quick look at your background to make sure it’s not too distracting
- Dress appropriately, at least the visible bits of you!
The virtual appraisal discussion:
- Accept that the meeting won’t flow as naturally as a face to face meeting and that there may be minor technical difficulties which can usually be overcome. But the majority of feedback on virtual appraisals is very positive.
- Start the meeting with an introduction, welcome and a general chat to break the ice and test the IT, audio etc. “I can see and hear you ok, can you see and hear me?” This may be the time to advise about camera position, volume etc
- Try and look in to the camera rather than into the face on the screen.
- Run the appraisal along the lines that you usually do in a face to face meeting, but be prepared for, and accept that there may be times when you need to step outside of the appraisal conversation to conduct “repair or technical talk”. This may be to ask the Dr to repeat something or adjust their camera or microphone; this shouldn’t cause too much disruption and the conversation can quickly get back on track. Summarising can be useful in these situations.
- Mention to the appraisee that you will be making notes and looking at your notes – so you don’t look as if you’re distracted.
- Some natural body language cues can be missed in a virtual meeting so try and pay extra attention to visual and audio cues. Sometimes the “pacing cues” we use in face to face conversation, for example “aha”, “yep”, “ok” can come across as an interruption due to the slight time lag. So be careful not to use them too often. Perhaps use facial expressions more to show you’re paying attention, smiling, nodding etc.
- If you need to interrupt try putting your hand up to indicate you’d like to say something.
- Conclude the appraisal discussion in your usual way and thank the Dr for their patience and perhaps ask for feedback on the virtual appraisal.
- Following the appraisal discussion, when marking the appraisal as ‘meeting complete’ on MARS, you now have the option to indicate that it was a virtual appraisal and what platform/software was used (see instructions on the next page - 'Recording the Virtual Appraisal on MARS').