As many of us are now working from home, this week we share some tips on how to have great online meetings.
Most of us assume that online meetings run exactly as their face to face counterparts do but that’s not always the case. Over recent years the amount of online meetings has grown exponentially, making them a much more viable option for all kinds of businesses not just the kind of people you’d expect. Technology has played a role as has a changing work place environment and businesses general attitude to home and flexible working.
As I’m sure you know we’re all about better meetings and there are nuances to meeting online that it’s worth considering before you dive in.
Pick a platform, there’s lots.
This is the point you’d expect us to bemoan how the technology has facilitated our failing meeting culture but, we’ll skip that for this article 😉
A quick web search will throw up a large number of platforms available for online meetings, there’s loads out there, from the basic freebies to super sophisticated (i.e. expensive) software options. Our advice? Do your research. There are so many options, so take the time to work out exactly what your business requirements are and select a solution accordingly.
Once you’ve made a choice, take the time to fully understand the platform and its functionality. As with all areas in business, it’s imperative to plan and be prepared. So be sure to do a few practise runs with friends or colleagues, before your first actual meeting. Not being on mute when the dogs barking can be a little embarassing with clients in the meeting!
When you’re confident you know what you’re doing, here’s our advice for running an engaging and productive online meeting.
Communication is key.
Communication is key. This isn’t just regarding the meeting itself, but in the run up to it. Firstly, make sure you let ALL the expected participants the exact date and time. There is nothing worse than a bunch of people sat looking uncomfortably into their webcams waiting for someone to join who actually has no idea their supposed to be there in the first place.
As with all types of meetings, make sure you create and circulate an agenda for the meeting beforehand. Allocating time limits to each section can help keep things on track and stop breakouts that wander off at a tangent and throw the whole meeting out. Pulling everyone back on track is much harder online than face to face, so ensuring the agenda is followed is key. Time limits also stop sections rambling on and people becoming disengaged.
Assign a facilitator.
It’s a really good idea to nominate someone to lead the meeting (usually the person who has requested and set the meeting up, but not always).
Although you’ve spent the time familiarising yourself with the platform, assume no one else there has ever used it before. The meeting lead should explain how the platform works, as well as getting everyone to introduce themselves prior to kicking off the agenda.
Make up for the lack of face to face interaction.
We’ve all sat in those meetings. The really dry ones that seem to run forever and send you into a total stupor. Online meetings can especially suffer as there can be a lack of personality with not being face to face. Combat this with exciting visuals, video, sound and try to making the meeting as interactive as possible (remember, this is a meeting, not a presentation). Try and inject some humour (if appropriate) and encourage people to comment, questions and feedback. Many of the available platforms include the functionality for things like live brainstorming and polls, all of which help to ignite and sustain people’s interest.
Assign the follow up.
Finally, ensure you follow up the meeting with an email, summarising the main points of discussion, tasks and next steps. And, as always, thank everyone for their time and encourage post-meeting feedback.
Find a tool that helps you manage it all.
You may have noticed that running a great meeting online is similar to the a face to face. Albeit without the human interaction. A great way to ensure you tick all the boxes is to use a tool that helps you plan, run and action your meetings.