Now that online meetings are happening each day, coming off as an expert is becoming increasingly essential in leaving a lasting impression on prospects, clients, even colleagues.
But, when it comes to a successful, smooth online meeting experience, the host can have a lot on their plate.
Well, virtual meetings aren't all about creating a meeting link and forwarding them to everyone before the meeting, after all. It's also about preparing the environment and ensuring everything is working in favor of a productive conversation. Participants' experience and engagement are key to the meeting’s success.
That's where everything gets a bit challenging.
And now, the burning question is, "how should a host set up a home-friendly online meeting?"
Here are some best practices to help you get the most out of your next online meetings more effectively.
1) Choose the Right Meeting Software
There are tons of meeting software out there. The best one is the one that is accessible to all the participants, matches your budget, and accommodates all the needs of your meeting.
For instance, meeting software is free and easy to use, also quite popular too. But, it doesn't have the collaborative tools (i.e, whiteboard, screen-sharing, etc.) you actually need. That's when you understand that you need another software.
The key is always to pick a meeting software that can provide all of the essential features you need, so you won't have to juggle different tools during your meeting.
This includes features like:
- Screen sharing for displaying slides or product demos
- Audio and video conferencing for real-time interaction
- Chat functions for collaborative note-taking
You can use MeetFox for all your online meeting needs. With its simple and intuitive interface, you can easily share screens, chat with participants, and more.
Don't forget to test out the software before your meeting to avoid any glitches or issues during the actual call. Just to ensure that everything will work just fine.
2) Pay Attention to Your Meeting Equipment
"Oh, sorry, John. You were breaking up. Can you repeat that?" Said a co-worker after John explained his complex points for their next video marketing checklist content idea.
No one likes to re-explain things because of poor meeting equipment.
Make sure all your devices are compatible with the software you're using. You don't want to have a situation where one person's computer isn't able to connect to the call.
You'll also need a quiet and distraction-free space for your meeting. If there are too many noises in the background, it will be difficult for participants to concentrate and will affect the overall quality of the meeting.
If possible, try to use a headset instead of your computer's speakers. This way, you won't have to worry about any echoes or background noises.
Also, before your meeting starts, make sure to test your internet connection speed. Nothing is more frustrating than having a meeting that keeps buffering or crashing.
3) Create a Welcoming Environment
The host is the one who sets the tone for the meeting. You want to create an environment where participants feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their ideas.
Start by introducing yourself and welcoming everyone to the call. This will help participants get acquainted with each other and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.
Be sure to introduce each participant at the beginning of the meeting. This will help everyone keep track of who is talking.
Also, it's also best to inform everyone how they can participate in the meeting. Some participants might be shy and need a little more encouragement to speak up. In this situation, you need to also encourage them to use the chat feature to share their thoughts.
You can do this by setting some ground rules for the meeting at the beginning. This will help everyone understand the expectations and how the meeting will be run.
4) Make Meeting Agenda
The meeting agenda will help keep the meeting on track and ensure that everyone is aware of what will be discussed. This should be sent out to all participants before the meeting, so they can come prepared.
The agenda should include:
- Introductions - Who's who in the meeting? What are their roles?
- Objectives - What do you hope to achieve or discuss in this meeting?
- Topics - What specific topics will be covered during the meeting?
- Timeframe - How much time will each topic take up?
The agenda can also be used as a reference tool during the meeting, so participants can keep track of what's been discussed and what still needs to be addressed.
And if someone has to leave the meeting early or join late, they can easily catch up by reading the agenda.
5) Use Engagement Tools
If there are any controversial topics being discussed, using a whiteboard to sketch out possible solutions can help avoid any heated "debates". It also gives everyone a chance to weigh in on the discussion.
Sharing visual aids like images, infographics, or videos can help illustrate any complicated points that are being made. This will help everyone follow along and ensure that no one gets lost in the discussion.
6) Make It Short with Supplemental Content
It is generally believed that the optimal duration of a professional video conferencing session should be 45 minutes to 1 hour. When you make the online meeting 2-hour long, you can't expect anything but bored, overwhelmed participants.
This is why you should always aim to keep your meeting short and sweet, with supplemental content offered if needed. This will help ensure that everyone remains engaged and focused on the discussion at hand.
You might need content, handouts, or meeting materials as resources to help you get ideas across flawlessly, clearly, and concisely. No time is wasted for sudden research or awkward silence.
So, even when you hold a short meeting, you're sure that everyone understands the key takeaways.
7) Consider Using Recording Tools (Especially for Important Meetings)
Recording tools can be a lifesaver, especially if there are important takeaways from the meeting that need to be shared with all participants.
This way, everyone can go back and review the discussion as needed. It also provides a record of what was discussed in case any questions or disputes arise later on.
Using recording tools can also help identify any areas that might need improvement for future meetings. It can also be used to help evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting, how participants interact with each other, and whether or not the objectives were met.
8) Send Follow-Up Notes
Always try to end the meeting on a positive note through email or chat. Thank everyone for their time and remind them of what was discussed in the meeting.
This will help ensure that everyone leaves feeling good about the meeting and is more likely to remember the discussion.
It's also a good idea to send out the meeting agenda and any supplemental content that was used during the meeting-- including those who were unable to attend, with the action items and spirit of the discussion. It would be much easier for participants to review what happened in the meeting and follow up on anything that was left unresolved.
Wrapping Up: Make Your Online Meeting Smooth and Home-Friendly
The beauty of online meetings is that you can still communicate your ideas remotely using an internet connection and a webcam. But as a host, simply turning on your camera and dictating the meeting proceedings aren't enough.
You will be in control and the participants will feel like they are right there with you, making it a more home-friendly experience. By following these tips, your online meeting can run more smoothly and everyone can stay focused on the discussion at hand. Therefore, it can make it much easier for everyone to move forward with any necessary action items.
About The Author
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).