5 Brutal Truths About Running Online Business Meetings Effectively
From this article you will learn:
- how to run great online business meetings, saving time and energy;
- what the most common mistakes in running and participating in online business meetings are;
- what people hate about virtual meetings;
- what can make you loose your credibility during an online meeting;
- how to cut the time of online meetings by half?
1. The digital world becomes a complete representation of the physical world.
“Our lives are increasingly shifting from physical to digital. The digital world becomes a complete representation of the physical world. We digitized information, then relationships as exemplified by social media, and now we digitize the physical world. The next stage will be the digitalization of the senses around 2030”, says trend analyst Natalia Hatalska. The transfer of business meetings, training and recruitment etc. to the internet has become our reality. Although some have used this form of communication for some time, virtual meetings are still a source of anxiety and frustration for many.
2. People do not know how to behave during online meetings.
We do not know where to focus our attention to efficiently organize and conduct a virtual meeting, in order to ensure the participants feel comfortable and involved. There are also many questions from participants, regarding the the required dress code, rules, etc.
Can I drink coffee during the meeting?
Do I need to have the camera on?
What’s the best way that I can prepare for the online meeting?
Some companies and institutions have already introduced internal ‘good practices’ of online meetings, which provide guidelines for both participants and organizers. Consider writing down a few rules that can make your life a lot easier and save you time and frustration.
3. If you don’t know where to start, start by defining needs.
When you implement online meetings into your company or a team, you should start by defining the needs of the meeting’s attendees i.e. What is the number of participants? What is the frequency of meetings? What technical functionalities will be needed?
Not everyone is proficient in IT solutions, so it is worth selecting the solutions that are the easiest to use and best able to meet our needs. When introducing changes, the communication process is key, so ensure there is a flow of communication with the team, inform team members about the progress of implementing new technological solutions and, very importantly, provide technical support in the form of training or an IT helpline.
The introduction of the new system is only the first step. To ensure that the technology serves us well, we must constantly monitor how users are doing, what causes any difficulties, and which are the most common technical problems etc.
4. You can save your time and energy by applying a few hacks.
To allow for the best preparation, consider sending participants a brief that informs them about the most important aspects of the meeting.
It is necessary to inform them about the technical requirements, and encourage them to test the connection, in order to avoid potential problems, such as installing the application 5 minutes before the meeting and getting stressed. Participants should also be given some information about the scope of technical support that will be available during the meeting.
The invitation should contain an agenda, a clearly defined purpose and the time of the meeting. If additional material or documents are required, it is worth mentioning it in order to save time searching for it during the meeting.
Clear communication and good organization will ensure a more efficient online meeting, prevent it from becoming longer, and thus reduce any stress and fatigue experienced by the participants.
One thing that will improve the online meeting and can shorten it, even by half, is attaching a list to the invitation, which contains a short bio of the meeting participants, including name, title, and area of responsibility, or other relevant information,
It is important that participants joining the online meeting enter the correct names and surnames that will be displayed on the forum. Displaying the wrong name, surname, or name of the phone model instead of their first name is not only unprofessional, but also irritating to other meeting participants.
Rules of the meeting and communication should also be included in the agenda e.g. Is it a requirement to turn on the camera? What is the dress code? What is acceptable behaviour and what is not? Providing this information will enable participants to feel safe, because they will know what the expectations are.
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Lead by example.
The organizer or moderator is a virtual leader at the meeting and should lead by example to others. It is worth mentioning a few factors that influence the perception of us as professionals. First, minimize noise. A barking dog or a crying child will certainly show our human side, but when it becomes the main, disruptive “highlight” of a meeting, it will not contribute to our professional image.
Bearing in mind the importance of making a good first impression, we need to pay attention to the background. It is not only the clothes and makeup that attract the attention, but also our surroundings – in this case our background. Make sure your background is plain or decluttered.
Lighting plays great importance too. During the day, we can use the light coming from the window. When it is insufficient, it is worth turning on the light that we have in the room. Lamps placed behind, and to the side of the computer monitor, tablet, or phone from which we are connecting, will throw light on our face, and therefore tend to work best.
5. During the meeting pay attention to participants.
Note to attendees – If we connect from the phone, try to place it in one place to minimize the movement. Do not walk around the house with the phone or shake it, because it is uncomfortable for the meeting participants watching us.
During business or recruitment meetings this has a very negative impact on how we are perceived by the other attendees.
During the meeting, the moderator, or the meeting leader plays a very important role. They are the host and it’s up to them to keep order and run the meeting efficiently and smoothly.
What does the moderator need to pay attention to? First of all, at the level of their technical knowledge, will they be able to help participants, or do they need support? Following that they need to consider the blocking of microphones and video cameras. To ensure the best quality of the meeting, it is good to mute the microphones of the participants and remind them of the rules of the meeting. For example, turning off the microphones during the presentation and requesting that participants ask questions during the Q&A session.
The moderator must facilitate the engagement of participants. During a conference or training, the function of dividing participants into smaller groups and assigning tasks to be performed in separate rooms is perfect for increasing the level of involvement.
One should not forget about respecting the participants’ time, focusing on the purpose and agenda of the meeting, encouraging active participation from quieter members and enforcing the meeting rules.
Each company has its own corporate culture, which is based on values. Virtual meetings become part of this, so they must reflect the corporate culture of the company.
If you do not know where to start preparing for an online meeting, both as an organizer and as a participant, you can always refer to the values and rules of the organization.