Online meetings are not like normal meetings. You cannot judge body language as well as you can when doing them face to face, you cannot always see your participants, you need to rely a lot more on technology, which can have glitches. Here are a few tips to help you on your way to hosting effective online meetings.
At first, they can be daunting, but with some practise they get easier and can be quite good fun as you work to overcome the challenges involved. And ultimately doing meetings online can save your business many hundreds, even thousands of dollars in travel costs and time, so learning how to do virtual meetings efficiently is well worth the effort.
Here are ten simple tips for doing online meetings more effectively.
1.Send an agenda and any material to participants before the meeting
The meeting will go more smoothly if all people know what they are meeting about
2. Keep virtual meetings short
Maximum time should be about 45-60 mins, have breaks if longer is required
3. If you are meeting with people in multiple locations, assign co-facilitators in each location to help
This might be assistance with setup, resuming hardware/software after a glitch, or even simply organising the attendees to be there on time!
4. No laptops
If users are on the web in your meeting they are using your bandwidth and not listening to you! If you keep the meetings short then they should not have the need to bring their work into your meeting.
5. No Mobile phones
If phones are ringing and people are talking on mobiles during your meeting, it may interfere with the sound quality and general experience of the online meeting. If it is essential for a particpiant to have a mobile phone, such as support staff, set to vibrate and leave the room when calling
6. Limit the number of participants in each location
8-10 people in each remote meeting room is adequate, more can result in excessive noise
7. Plan and know the technology
As the presenter you need to be proficient in all technologies involved. If you're not confident, have a co-facilitator with you and / or at the various locations to help. Learn how to ‘ad lib’ if something goes wrong and how to keep people interested while systems are rebooted or if one party drops out. Be flexible, be prepared.
8. Make a ‘participant map’ to remind you who is present
Select participants at random to answer questions and keep them involved, ask questions, make the virtual meeting a multi directional event just as you would in a normal meeting.
9. Send materials prior to the meeting
Patricipants will get more involved more quickly if they are aware what you want to talk about before the meeting. You will use less time explaining and will be able to get straight to the point. Follow up with participants before the meeting to be sure they have received and reviewed the materials.
10. Allow time for link ups
There is sometimes a delay in audio / video – factor this in to your presentation / meeting and make sure people are with you as you progress through the meeting. Ask for participant feedback on connection speed etc., you may be talking but the participants may not be able to see you! If possible use a simple web survey after each meeting to see users felt how it went. Over time you will know where to improve.