5 Tips for Effective Online Meetings
How would you describe the last online meeting you attended? Was it a good use of your time? Did you accomplish your goals? Was the meeting even necessary?
Every year people spend countless hours in meetings. Many of these meetings are unnecessary, lack clear objectives, and take you away from important work.
Meetings have a bad rap, but they’re not all time wasters. Effective meetings can save your business time and money, help you generate new ideas, and collaborate with team members to produce better results.
Whether you’re meeting online or face to face, the rules of conducting an effective meeting are essentially the same. The only difference is the medium that you communicate through. Here are 5 tips that will help you get the most out of your next online meeting.
1 – What Do You Want to Accomplish? Is a Meeting Necessary?
Before you schedule your next online meeting take time to write down your meeting goals. What do you hope to accomplish by meeting? Could you accomplish your goals by sending an e-mail or making a quick call? If you determine a meeting is necessary, make a short list of specific goals that you want to achieve by the end of the meeting. Here are some examples of specific goals: come up with 10 potential names for our new product, negotiate a 10% discount with our vendor, show the prospective client why our solution is better than the competition. Having a list of clear goals will keep you focused and motivated.
2 – Create a Meeting Plan
Now that you know what you want to accomplish it’s time to create a meeting plan that will help you achieve your goals. Here’s a short list of things to consider for your meeting plan:
Create a meeting outline – Make a list of talking points that need to be discussed. Send an e-mail to meeting attendees with these talking points included.
Create an agenda – Decide how much time you will dedicate to each item on your agenda.
Who needs to be in attendance? How will this person contribute to the meeting? Is their input necessary? Once you have a list of attendees send an invite from your web conferencing or calendar program.
3 – Start and End the Meeting On Time
Meetings that start late or run over can create unnecessary stress for everyone in attendance. Respect attendees time by keeping to the meeting schedule. Most web conferencing applications have automated reminders that will notify attendees via e-mail.
4 – Stay on Task
One of the biggest downfalls of any meeting is getting off track. You start with a clear objective, but then somebody goes off on a tangent and meeting participants start losing focus. Whenever you hear somebody diverting from your talking points politely reign them in.
5 – Meeting Follow Through
Before you end the meeting make sure you have a clear list of action items assigned to attendees. Shortly after the meeting send out a follow-up message with a recap and action list. Web conferencing services like GoToMeeting allow you to record online meetings. Having an archive of recorded meetings can be extremely helpful.
The lessons learned in this article can apply to both online or offline meetings. Successful meetings consist of thoughtful preparation, effective meeting execution, and good follow through.