6 Tips for Productive and Useful Online Meetings

While webinar software makes it easy to plan calls and add visuals, they can't help with one thing: involvement. Keep your team on track and increase their productivity during online meetings by following these six top tips.

In this challenging era of social alienation and working from home, it's tough to feel the energy of teamwork. It's particularly tricky to get the kind of rapid and straightforward feedback you'd receive in a physical encounter.

While webinar software platforms make it simple to plan calls, issue invites, and add visuals to presentations, they can't help with one thing: involvement. It's not about showing up for a remote meeting - it's about not feeling distant and away from the discussion.

If you want to get the most out of it and maximize your team's productivity, look into these six tips.

Get All the Time Details Together

Getting everyone where they have to be in the context of the meeting can be difficult, mainly if you're dealing with a distributed team that stretches across various time zones.

Check for time intervals that fit everyone's local time to get all on the same schedule. There are numerous tools available to assist you in determining the best period for your decentralized workforce.

It is preferable to arrange meetings as far in advance as possible because there's less chance that people will have scheduling issues. However, in the last-minute meeting scenario, ensure that everyone has overlapping time frames open, so you can bring them together in the same (online) area, no matter where they are. 

Have a Clearly-Defined Agenda

A meeting with an ambiguous goal frequently results in misunderstanding and a lot of wasted time. That indicates you shouldn't conduct an online meeting without an agenda. Establish a detailed program with all of the major subjects to be addressed during the discussion and organize them in line with your business objectives to make things easier for everyone.

Main aspects to consider when preparing the ground for a meeting agenda include:

  • Length of the session
  • Approximate time you can dedicate to each subject
  • Who will attend the meeting
  • Each group member's responsibility in the meeting

Remember that people only have so much time to devote to you before they check out. When it comes to online meetings, this is much more relevant. No one will mind if the final few topics are left undone if the debate focuses on the most important ones first. Also, make it clear what's the role of each meeting attendee. Share agenda at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, and make sure everyone confirms it. Use Google Calendar to create automated meeting notifications and make space on the agenda for any last-minute changes or inquiries. If you are looking for ways to grow your ecommerce business, MeetFox is an effective tool to move cold leads further into your sales funnel.

One of the techniques to improve the agenda is asking for comments on the participants' priorities. A crowdsourcing tool collects data that attendees wish to talk about, vote on, or learn about during the next gathering. After that, they vote on the suggestions that have been given. The runner-ups determine the schedule's priorities, and your event is now in their hands. Note that you can do this if you don't have an essential and urgent topic to discuss, and that must be addressed no matter if others like it.

Use the Right Technology

There are a plethora of solutions available to make hosting an online meeting quicker, simpler, and more interactive; the trick is determining which of these options is best for your organization.

Do you want to observe everyone's reactions when you're presenting fresh product concepts? Consider using video conferencing software. Do you require everyone to collaborate on a public statement? You'll most likely choose to use Google Docs. Is it necessary for everyone to watch a live talk or demonstration? Then you'll need screen-sharing technology. Your requirements will help you find the perfect tool. And, while each team is unique, they all gain from a virtual meeting tool that includes at the very minimum visual / voice features.

Or consider using conversation intelligence, screen recording tools like Avoma or Vmaker to make the most of your meetings that records, transcribes, gives you summarized notes, and makes all your meetings a searchable database. 

The best solutions for eye-to-eye conversations aren't always the best tools for holding a meeting with 40 dispersed employees in multiple time zones. Check that the meeting program for employee management you select can handle a large number of guests without crashing.

You should also bear in mind that not all online conferencing systems are compatible. Using a traditional analog system on one side and a digital video system on the other can create a slew of problems. Even digital-to-digital connectivity might be complicated if an obsolete software program requires an upgrade before interacting with the latest program. By validating the accessibility of all elements before the meeting, you can minimize the risk of setbacks and technical issues.

In all its glory, the technology you use should be optimized to define procedures and make data more available to people who are committed. It should also assist attendees in remaining concentrated on the most significant aspects of the discussion. When evaluating prospective online meeting solutions, look for features that allow you to share the meeting with participants once it's over - it will keep them from being preoccupied with taking notes during the session.

Eliminate Distractions

It's easy to become distracted during online interaction. Most attendees confess to juggling side tasks (like responding to emails or checking social networks) during work meetings. With the expansion of remote workers, there are more disruptions to cope with: children and pets requiring attention, the delivery person unexpectedly appearing, etc.

A corporate protocol should be followed during online meetings:

  • Briefly introduce new members
  • Do not go internet surfing while the meeting is on (stay within the chosen program)
  • When you're not communicating, turn off your microphone
  • Maintain the video connection

A video call will oblige everyone to get dressed and prevent them from being sidetracked because you'll be able to see everyone. Peer pressure is an enormously potent instrument. Moreover, video meetings make it easy to keep tabs on what's going on and who's speaking while also allowing everyone to actively participate in the discussion.

If you're employing software that some of your employees haven't used before, you should walk them through it before the meeting. Have everyone try out the program at least 30 minutes before the meeting in order to avoid wasting time and causing unneeded distractions to other guests.

Ensure that all of your attendees are seated in a quiet, well-lit room with a clean background. To maximize the quality of the communication, use a headset with a high-quality mic.

It's wise to ask all participants to put their smartphones in a different room, switch them off or lock them on airplane mode. Social networks are contagious, especially when the topic discussed at the meeting isn't someone's cup of tea.

Before the meeting begins, remind everyone to shut all irrelevant tabs or open a new browser window for the duration of the conference and apply the same rule yourself. You can't be effective at a meeting while reading or watching something on the side - no matter how excellent you believe you are at multitasking.

Engage the Participants and Invite Them to Contribute

In a professional environment, boredom will make it challenging for you to organize productive virtual meetings. Furthermore, dull meetings are every employee's greatest fear. They're long, monotonous, and if they're not engaging, listeners can quickly become sidetracked. It is your obligation as a leader to keep everyone involved. Begin the meeting with a vibrant opening, some eye-catching images, and the establishment of a few group customs.

Whether you all know each other or have just started working together, a pleasant, friendly chat can captivate your colleagues and get the meeting off to a fantastic start. Another great option is to throw in some amusing riddles. In the first five minutes of a session, many supervisors stimulate their staff by playing video games. This method prevents participants from nodding off and serves as an excellent icebreaker.

Almost every group has introverts, and they might be hesitant to speak up on their own. To make them feel involved and engaged, encourage them to participate. Personnel is the company's most valuable asset. It's essential that everyone feels confident in their ability to contribute to the initiative. Getting the involvement you seek might be as simple as asking each team member to contribute. But, be careful - the key is to strike a fine line and avoid putting individuals under the spotlight they might not be comfortable with.

Don't Forget After-Meeting Activities

After your online meeting is finished, send the attendees an overview of all the memos. Specify the key steps for each agenda item, as well as the name of the person in charge of completing them. Request that all participants verify their grasp of the meeting notes.

After an in-person gathering, people usually stick around to pose questions or raise an issue they don't want to discuss with the entire group. As that option isn't applicable with online meetings, provide a chance for additional engagement by sending a follow-up message with any accompanying papers or action points. It's also a perfect moment to conduct a small survey to obtain feedback from participants on the conference.

High-quality online meeting software will typically come with polling and survey features, as well as Q&A sections, so make good use of them. Your staff can review the Q&A section to ensure that they have fully comprehended everything. The questionnaire can show you whether there is anything you can do to improve the productivity of your virtual meetings.

Bonus Tips

Assign Pre-Work

Although giving work before a meeting demands extra effort, it has its purpose: It provokes people's interest before the conference even begins. People become immersed in the subject. Introverts also have more time to warm up before a meeting.

Establish the Ground Rules

Setting guidelines is essential during online meetings because we can't analyze each other's nonverbal cues or pick up on movements that suggest things are off the track. Make a plan for your talking order and follow it. Because it's all too simple for individuals to speak over each other, you might want to define a term, such as "over," that people can use to indicate when they've finished their argument.

Create a Few Check-in Question

Allow attendees at least two minutes (use a stopwatch) to tell a little about themselves and their condition. For instance, "Did you complete some teeny-tiny thing you've been delaying for too long this week"? or "Did you browse through some interesting holiday locations?" You might also take advantage of the opportunity to observe how individuals are feeling mentally and physically during this trying time.

Avoid Dull PowerPoints

Nobody wants to sit through a boring, slide-turner PowerPoint presentation. The slideshow must be dynamic, captivating, and enjoyable, especially when applied to virtual meetings. Try to create vivid animations and eye-catching visuals. Interactions should be added as needed. You might also use some excellent PowerPoint add-ins commercially available to assist you in creating outstanding presentations.

Break the Circle Into Smaller Groups

You can form breakout rooms via software solutions like Zoom, but you can also accomplish this by pausing the session and having individuals couple up to discuss over the phone or via a message program for ten minutes. After that, have everyone rejoin the main group for a quick share out. This gives everyone more "airtime" and more chances to participate.

Six Things You SHOULDN'T Do During Online Meetings

  • Make no intrusive noises.
  • Don't yell or move around in a distracting manner.
  • Don't talk over other people.
  • Don’t let positive team members get pulled down by negativity.
  • Keep side talks to a minimum.
  • Wearing "noisy" jewelry is not a good idea.
  • Covering the microphone is also not a good idea - turn it off when you're not speaking.

Conclusion

During this pandemic, online interactions showed up to be essential. Although it requires slightly more effort (especially if you aren't used to this discussion approach), rest assured that with some practice and a couple of essential organizational rules in place, these encounters could be just as effective as in-person meetings.

By implementing these six tips, you should be able to minimize stress, enhance productivity, and bring in a dash of entertainment to your next online session, leaving participants more invested and feeling like the goal was met when everyone hits "exit the meeting."

About The Author

Nada Bundalo is an experienced Link builder and Content Manager at Intercoolstudio. Feel free to reach her on LinkedIn.

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