Best Practices For Online Meetings

Online meetings can be a very effective way to communicate with groups of any size, anywhere, anytime.

Business meetings are an integral part of any organization’s daily schedule. But anyone who’s worked in a corporate set up knows that business meetings (online or in person) can often eat up a lot of unnecessary time if they aren’t conducted properly. To help you get the most out of your web meetings and eliminate wasting time and productivity, follow the best practice tips below. They will not only help keep your meetings on track, but they will also help you keep your sanity in times of utter chaos.

Be Prepared
The cardinal sin when hosting a meeting is not knowing what you’ll be discussing. This not only wastes time, but it can just lead to overall frustration for all those involved in the meeting. To combat this, simply prepare a meeting agenda and sent it to all meeting participants ahead of time. You’ll be surprised at how much more focused and productive your meetings will be when everyone is on the same page.



Preload All Documents and Assets
Remember to preload any slideshows, documents, or videos you need for your meeting. The last thing you want to do is waste precious time waiting for your presentation to load. By downloading everything ahead of time, you can focus more time and energy on the meeting agenda itself and less time filling awkward silences and gaps with small talk and lame jokes.



Open the Virtual Meeting Room Early
Just like in an in-person meeting, it is always good practice to arrive early. It gives you time to finish your first coffee, prepare your notes and greet those who join you. This same principle also applies to web-meetings. Because of the technology involved in web conferencing, you should open the meeting room at least ten minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin. This will not only benefit the eager participants but it will also give new participants, who may not be familiar with the technology, extra time to log on and settle in.




 Greet Participants
You would never ignore somebody who walked into your office for an in-person meeting. It is common courtesy to introduce and acknowledge each other before diving into the meeting at hand. Again, this same principle applies to web meetings. It’s important to greet each member of the meeting as they join so they don’t feel anonymous. This will empower them to engage and communicate freely.



Do a Practice Run
Making a dry run before the real meeting is especially important if you are using a new device or new meeting software. This is the time to work out all the kinks and resolve any technical issues that come up. The last thing you want is for something to pop up during your meeting that forces you to reschedule.



Take Breaks
Longer meetings (over 90 minutes) should always include a short break. Although you may want to just push through, taking breaks can actually increase overall engagement and productivity. Sometimes all people need is ten minutes to stand up, stretch and refocus. Studies have shown that the average person can only pay attention for approximately 20 minutes before becoming fidgety, starting to daydream or working other projects. So remember, scheduling breaks can actually produce a more effective meeting.



Record the Meeting
Another good practice is to record your web meetings. This is a great tool for learning and training purposes. You can easily capture the meeting and send it to anyone who couldn’t attend so they can catch up on what they missed. It is also great for implementing action plans. Without a record, participants might forget who is responsible for the next step of the action plan and disputes might arise. With “a public record to refer to, those responsible will be held accountable and expected to proceed as agreed. Unresolved issues won’t be forgotten and can be revisited at a subsequent meeting” (Audability).

All of these suggestions can be summed up with one thought: treat a web meeting like you would an in-person meeting. For tips on how to improve web meetings as a small business owner, click here.


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