Michelle Smith: [00:00:00] Hi everyone. And welcome to this episode of cyBARR Chats. I’m Michelle Smith, director of marketing. And today I’m very excited to be speaking with Julie Mungai. Julia is a senior consultant here at BARR with five years experience in it auditing. And today we’re going to be discussing the topic of conducting virtual audits and general tips for virtual meetings.
So, Julie, I will start off with our first question. As you know, client walkthroughs are an important part of an audit process due to COVID-19 BARR ended travel to client sites until our associates and our clients feel that their safety is guaranteed. So now that all audits are conducted remotely, how do you ensure that you’re getting all the details and information needed from a walkthrough when it’s done via video versus onsite?
Julie Mungai: [00:00:48] That’s a great question, Michelle. I like to think of it in three steps. The first one is to think of it as like, like survival sprints. So you don’t want to schedule a four hour meeting over WebEx or over Hangouts or zoom and then have the other party completely bored and completely disinterested because it’s just too much and too long of a period to pay attention.
Um, and then the second thing that I think is great to have is to, is to always double down on the digital resources you have. So if you are scheduling a meeting, Make use of some of the recording features that some of the tools have, whether it be a zoom meeting, always record it, just to make sure that if something happens to pass you by and you don’t really pay attention, you can always go back to the recording and listen to it, like play by play.
And then lastly, this goes for all engagements, whether it’s done via video or not. I think planning is the key to exist. Successful walkthrough. If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. So spend that additional 10 minutes, 15 minutes, even an hour, the day before to come up with a really detailed agenda focus on areas that you want to hit in the meeting.
And then always recognize that there might be topics that you can’t cover and always be ready to send an action, action items, email, or a summary email to career items that you may have missed.
Michelle Smith: [00:02:20] So how do you prepare differently for a remote audit versus onsite engagements?
Julie Mungai: [00:02:26] I mean, let’s be honest, virtual meetings are a little bit stale, right? They’re not, they’re not as interesting as sitting in a room directly from the person you’re hoping to engage with. So what I like to do is when it comes with regards to like the team engagements and people that I work with, I like to think of, of collaboration tools that we need to maybe like hone into or think about to help foster a team environment where everyone is as engaged in a meeting.
For instance. So that could be a G sheep agenda, so everyone can put in their notes together simultaneously. And I also like to like include everyone. And the key to any virtual meeting is to communicate over communication is my goal when it comes to a virtual team or doctor. So over communicate, send emails.
Because at the end of the day, you don’t have the luxury of having that, the person next door, like compared to like an onsite meeting where if I didn’t, if I missed this, I can pop it into your office and get the meat, the missing details that I needed. But from a client perspective, the way I prepare differently is I like to narrow down my thoughts.
Meaning, I want to know the key message that I want to communicate. I want to know who my audience is, and I want to know what the goal of the meeting is. Also an important thing to think about is the communication style, given that it is a remote site visit, think about ways to get them excited. It could be an iceberg.
It could be a short little activity of like ways for you to get to know each other. Um, yeah, but basically for remote. Site visit versus an onsite visit. I think the key to that is getting the client engaged. I know doing exactly what your audience expects and what your goal is for that meeting.
Michelle Smith: [00:04:25] And speaking of communication, and you kind of touched on this, um, in this last question, how do you ensure you’re communicating effectively without those benefits of in person or nonverbal communication?
Julie Mungai: [00:04:38] I mentioned before it is a bit challenging to communicate in the remote world. So it’s even more critical to stay connected, whether it is with your teammates, whether it is with the client. And one of the, the benefits. That I think that has come out of all this COVID-19 phase. So to say, is there have been like a growth of many collaboration tools?
So if there’s, like I said earlier, if there’s a need for me to like, do a real time check in on the client, I can do that through a direct message or even through chat rooms. One thing that I especially love about BARR is for some of our clients that utilize Slack, we can. Essentially create a chat room to where we can Slack them.
Anytime we need anything from them, they can Slack us anytime they need feedback, or if they have questions on anything. So I truly appreciate that the enormous amounts of collaboration tools that have come out as of course, with the issue of security, um, we are using zoom and Slack. So those are some of the collaboration tools that I use.
Michelle Smith: [00:05:48] So, what advice do you have for someone leading their first virtual meeting?
Julie Mungai: [00:05:53] I’m probably going to say this throughout this interview, but prep work. If you, if you plan, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So if it is your first walk through, you have to be cognizant of the fact that this is something you’ve never done before.
There might be curve balls. So, what you need to do is what I like to do or encouraged some of like the first year staff is yeah. Spend at that time, that front end time to plan through two areas or topics that you’re wanting to discuss. And even like outside of prepper, if this is, if you’re we’re planning to lead a first time, a walk through what I find was completely beneficial for me, once I started this career is the fact that I had the support of my team.
So if you’re leading your first walk through, I would suggest you stay close. Connections did to your partners, to your directors, to your managers, seniors, because they will kind of lead you. Steer you while developing your skills, what you’re trying. And hopefully what people understand about walkthroughs is you’re trying to build a relationship with the client.
And at the same time, you’re trying to understand and get something out of it. So if you are, if this is your first time leading a walk through you, you have to spend that time to plan for it. Advanced planning leads to success. And also you have to be willing to network and be able to pull in people from your team, um, in instances where you might need a little bit of help.
Michelle Smith: [00:07:29] So what are some of the technical difficulties you’ve encountered during a virtual meeting and how have you managed those?
Julie Mungai: [00:07:36] Okay. Yeah, I have encountered quite a bit with my five years experience. The first one is always bad. Wifi connections. And there’s always that one person who doesn’t want to use the mute button, like familiar with that.
Yeah. Let me, here’s the mute button, let me introduce DC to it. Right? So audio difficulties, and then at times it’s difficult to know, especially when you’re doing a video call, when there’s silence, it’s difficult to know if someone’s thinking or someone’s just frozen. So what I, yeah, the key to it. Some of these like technical difficulties is being able to build some sort of, sort of like operational resilience.
So like being self aware and understood. There might be chances that one of our contacts might have . So let me go ahead and add in a dial in, or like a conference number. And then we might have some wifi or connectivity issues. And the good really cool thing about some of these collaboration tools is they allow you to perform a test before you can actually join in the meeting.
So they’ll do a test of your video settings, your audio settings, your microphones, and all of that. That should give you somewhat of a good baseline to know whether or not you’re fully ready to jump into a virtual meeting. But yeah, some of, some of I’ve seen a lot, but the key to solving, some of them is looking ahead and anticipating and just being, these are some common problems so I need to have some mitigating controls or plan Bs.
Michelle Smith: [00:09:17] So along the same lines, you mentioned introducing people to the mute button. What are some other virtual meeting etiquette tips that you’ve learned and would encourage others?
Julie Mungai: [00:09:30] Yeah, so I have one that I really absolutely think is critical is to ask the audience not to multitask.
This, especially when you’re having a meeting with maybe more than 10 people, certainly not every one of them is going to be able to be leading or talking through the meeting and actively participating. So for the ones that are typically what we call optional invites, I would just go ahead before the meeting, ask everyone to.
Stop multitasking. Or if they can’t help it maybe held off of responding emails right now, till we get through this meeting, another one is maybe ask them to turn off their cell phones. If, if they’re not big fans of the media button, then anytime they get a call, the entire conference will hear their, their ringtone.
So just ask everyone to turn off their phones. Like you said, mute, introduce everyone to the mute button and. Ask if we can ask the audience in a polite way, not to multitask, that will be great as everyone will be actively participating. And you’re not going to have distractions of people asking, I’m sorry, I didn’t get what you were saying or maybe, and I find that, Hey, um, on me and I’m sorry, I find that to be a bit of a cop out when people like weren’t really paying attention.
So always avoid multitasking. It feels like, Hey, I can, I can respond to a couple of emails. And actively listen, but that is not the way to go. No one, multitasking is a myth. Let’s just focus on one thing.
Michelle Smith: [00:11:02] These were really great tips, Julie, thank you so much for your time and insight today. And we will see everyone next time on cyBARR Chats.