Sabrina George is vice president of marketing at Onstream Media & Infinite Conferencing, divisions of Onstream Media Corp., a leading provider of webinar, web conferencing and streaming media solutions.
5 Ways to Maximize Your Next Online Meeting
A robust virtual workforce and rising travel costs are making online meetings the norm rather than the exception. But as easy as they are to arrange, a virtual meeting comes with its own idiosyncrasies and can be a counterproductive sinkhole if not planned properly. Here are a few tips to make sure your time is well spent.
1.) Watch the clock: Before the meeting starts, alert people to exactly how much time they have to talk. Everyone should prepare what they need to say ahead of time, and even email the meeting members a concise agenda of the points they plan to cover. Also build in time for others to give their observations and feedback.
2.) Pick a leader: Like a rudderless ship, a meeting without a leader is a shipwreck waiting to happen. Name a leader and that person is in charge of setting the agenda, starting the meeting on time, keeping things moving and ending on time. He or she can’t be afraid to politely end any rambling and suggest holding a smaller meeting just for the people involved to continue the conversation. Proper meeting lengths depend on the amount of material being covered, but a good range is 20 to 30 minutes.
3.) Keep Everyone Connected: Meetings are a great time to stay in touch with the rest of your staff, asking for their input and allowing them to share something of importance to them. These questions may be positive or negative in nature. A good mixture of each keeps things interesting and honest. Get a short response from each person. It can often be useful to ask some of the senior members of your group or those in higher positions the questions first to allow other employees to gauge what they will say when it is their turn to answer. Remember, you want honesty.
4.) Resist going into multitask overdrive: As tempting as it is, stay focused on the meeting, and don’t jump at the opportunity to catch up on email, peruse social media and finish another unrelated assignment. Listen to what’s being said, and avoid the embarrassing question that leaves you flustered because you’d tuned out the discussion.
5.) Control your sound and technology: Be courteous to others, and be familiar with the mute button. Everything and anything that can be picked up on your receiver or laptop microphone probably will—and be amplified online for all to hear. Also, if you can’t make an online meeting from an office, choose a setting as quiet as possible, preferably not a café or other public setting where you have no control over your environment. And finally, don’t wing it with the controls. Make time to test out the online conference controls well in advance, so you’re not left fumbling at the last minute.
While you can’t control every circumstance, a little planning goes a long way toward executing a successful online meeting.