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Better Online Meetings: A Quick Reset

We’ve been involved in projects lately with coordination of various teams from around the world. It’s simultaneously exciting but frustrating. After a couple of months of regular synchronization and status calls, we thought it would be helpful to share some ideas with you about how to have better online meetings and conference calls. After all, it’s inevitable in business to have them, either with clients, vendors or team members. We feel like we’ve seen too many mistakes and want to help you avoid them!

Here are four key ideas to help you run better online meetings.

1. Set Expectations in Your Invitation

First, send out the invitation for your meeting as early as possible. Invite those who must attend, and err on the side of caution for those you think might need to attend. Too many people in a meeting reduces focus and productivity. Include clear instructions and a strong agenda for the meeting. Emphasize the purpose and why someone is invited. Finally, include any relevant materials as early as possible. If you’re reviewing a document or presentation, send it in advance. It will streamline the discussion. Don’t send it right at the start or after the start – it simply wastes time.

2. Choose Smart Tools for Your Meeting

If you need a conference bridge, choose it, test it and test it again. Find a good screen sharing platform and test that too – verify that it works on relevant platforms (PCs, Macs, tablets, phones) so you don’t have attendees who can’t see the screen. Also check the audio quality, and notify attendees of the best way to use the system (e.g., if a good microphone is required, make sure they know not to use the built-in mic, or to use a dial-in instead. Examples of common screen sharing systems include WebEx (premium), Zoom (business class) and Join.Me (coach). Consider advising the mute button if there are noisy backgrounds (but also remember to unmute to talk!).

3. Run the Meeting Properly

The most important thing you can do for an effective meeting is to arrive early. If you show up to your own meeting late, others are wasting time with idle chat that can impact the overall timing. Show up a few minutes early and welcome attendees as they join. Lead the meeting with an overview of the topic and procedures you want to follow, make sure attendees know who’s who and set the tone for the discussion. Keep attendees on topic to ensure a timely completion and the best use of time. It’s OK to have a little “human” element to the conversation, but time matters as much as anything. Have someone take detailed notes, especially when it comes to action. Have that person recap the call, accepting revisions as they arise.

4. Follow Up

Afterward, share the summarized notes. If there are individual tasks, earmark them to the specific person – it greatly improves the potential effectiveness of the meeting. Hold people accountable! If there is a follow-up meeting, lather, rinse repeat 🙂

4 Quick Tips to Better Online Meetings

We hope these ideas, although common sense, provide a reset to help you have better online meetings. Avoid wasting time with idle banter, prevent crackly audio, use the time effectively and urge the right people to take action when you’re through the meeting. If you do these things, you’ll make your meetings more worthwhile and get better results.

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