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Published 03. Apr. 2020
10 Points To Make Online Meetings Effective and Pleasant
Digitalization has given businesses greater opportunities to connect and interact. However, it’s hard to beat a live interaction and discussion with a peer or a prospect to achieve the best results for your business. With that out of the way, we know there are situations where an online meeting is the most feasible option due to schedules, travel times, or unexpected situations such as with the COVID-19.
Of course, there are certain challenges when it comes to remote meetings (or working remotely) that in-person teams and meetings breeze by. One example is that a physical face-to-face meeting allows you to swivel your chair around and ask someone about their digital strategy and fluidly continue the conversation with another person. Remote meetings require attendees to be more intentional with the way they communicate since everyone is basically on their own (online) island.
Few organizations feel prepared for large-scale remote meetings, but you can take steps to make the experience feel productive for large-scale remote meetings for both attendees and your organization.
So, how do you get the most out of an online meeting?
To get the most out of attending or running a online meeting, there are some common practices that the attendees and meeting chairperson should follow to optimize each other’s time. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices that you can take to make your online meeting a success:
1. Be Prepared
Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success“. With online meetings, whether it’s 1-2-1 or with a huge group, it’s always a good practice to make sure the agenda and preparations are provided beforehand, along with instructions on the online meeting solution. This will allow attendees to be prepared for the online meeting and be as productive as possible throughout the session.
2. Get (Online) In Early
Online meeting or not, it’s just good etiquette to be early for your meetings. But in an online setting, it’s best to be online early to sort out any problems or kinks (such as internet connection, screen sharing functions, webcams, etc.). Ask the attendees to log in 5 minutes before the meeting starting time to get everyone settled in.
3. Break The Ice
With COVID-19 at the top of everyone’s mind, you can expect some of the attendees to not be in a conversational mood. It’s times like these that you (or the chairperson) should take an initiative to kickstart the meeting with some icebreakers – make people smile or even laugh to get everyone loose and ready!
4. Outline The Plan
After the attendees are accounted for and once everyone has managed to catch-up and be prepared, it’s time to do the online meeting itself. Before the discussion, however, it’s best to clarify the purpose and goal for the meeting – this is to keep everyone on the same page and focused. With a concrete plan outlined, it’ll be easier for the chairperson to navigate the direction of the meeting.
5. Marking The Minutes
When everyone starts talking in an online meeting, it can be easy for some attendees to get lost in the conversation and not hear everything. Appointing someone to take the meeting minutes that’s shared after the meeting will help remind everyone of the main key points of the meeting. Ideally, the chairperson would be the one to take the meeting minutes but you can appoint anyone who is up to the task.
6. Leading And Steering Conversations
If you’re doing a 1-2-1 online meeting, you can easily keep track and lead the conversation. However, if you’re running an online meeting with a lot of attendees, you’ll need someone to keep everyone focused. The chairperson who runs the agenda should also keep the time – also be ready to park items if the discussion flows to the outside of the core topic – and get back to this separately with the people needed. That way, no matter where the conversation goes, you can always come back to the main topic.
7. Keep Everyone Involved
Online meetings offer great flexibility in that you can have as many people as possible in the meeting itself. But, if there are too many people in a meeting, you’re bound to have someone who’s not able to contribute as much or be as active in the discussion. Make sure that everyone is actively participating – those who do not comment, have the chairperson (or you) actively ask their point of view on the topic/discussion.
8. Actions, Decisions, And Conclusions
Remember that the whole point of an online meeting is to make it as productive and as efficient as you would in a face-to-face meeting. That means getting as much done as possible when it comes to the main topic that you’re focusing on. During the meeting, make sure the agenda items reach decisions, conclusions or follow-up actions – steer the conversation to possible solutions and outcomes.
9. Wrapping-up The Meeting
A good practice to have is to recap everything that you’ve discussed, 10 minutes before the meeting ends, to ensure that everyone is up to speed with everything. Start to wrap up with “what we decided today” and go through the things which need follow-up or action, by whom and when – make sure that a name and date are attached to each agreed item so that someone will be responsible for further action.
10. Following It Up
Hopefully, by the end of the online meeting, you and your attendees were productive discussions. If there are more things that you need to discuss, book follow-up meetings if needed and have it in everyone’s agendas. Make sure the minutes are shared so that everyone knows the discussion points for the next meeting.
Bonus Point: Thank-Yous To Everyone
After a successful online meeting, send a thank-you note to the attendees for having good participation and ideas in the discussions! Not only will your attendees feel grateful to receive a personalized thank-you note, but they’ll also be more encouraged to contribute in future online meetings.
Face-to-face meetings can be a powerful tool for businesses, but online meetings can be just as effective if you follow the 10 points we’ve listed out. A well-thought-out agenda, keeping the time, and making sure the momentum stays high with some smilemaking – you can have an effective, pleasant, and fun online meeting with a productive outcome!