As remote work continues to be the norm in the UK and around the world, managing online meetings has become an essential part of business operations. Whether you’re leading a team or communicating with clients, online meetings require a unique set of skills to ensure the best outcome. “Even under the best of circumstances, as soon as one or two attendees “dial in” to any meeting, productivity starts to suffer”, says Bob Frisch of the Strategic Offsites Group. So, understanding the dos and don’ts of managing online meetings can help you facilitate productive discussions and ensure that all participants feel engaged and heard.
Have an agenda. If your meeting lacks a clear purpose, this will often lead to confusion and wasted time. So, before the session, prepare a well-defined agenda and share it with the participants. Send this out at least 24 hours in advance to give people a chance to think about the topics.
Appoint a facilitator for the meeting (or take the role yourself). The facilitator’s job is to guide the conversation, keep track of time allocated to the agenda points, ensure focus on the key topics, and help encourage input from all the participants.
Test your technology beforehand to avoid any technical issues. Nothing kills momentum at the start of a meeting like a 15-minute delay because people need to download software, can’t get the video to work, etc. So, check your internet connection, camera, microphone, and speakers.
Set time limits and stick to them. Respect everyone’s schedules by starting and finishing on time and avoiding unnecessary delays or extensions.
Encourage group-wide participation. This can include asking open-ended questions, actively listening to feedback, and creating opportunities for everyone to contribute to the discussion.
Clarify the actions and next steps. Don’t let the meeting wrap up without a summary of the main actions. The key is to assign ownership of each action to one of the participants (don’t let actions be assigned to non-attendees!) and agree on a deadline.
Don’t invite too many people or people who are not relevant to the meeting topic. Keep your meeting focused and efficient by inviting only those team members that need to be there and have something to add.
Don’t multitask, and avoid distractions. Turn off any notifications or background noise that might interfere with your attention or communication. If it is a long session, schedule short breaks for participants to stretch their legs, have a coffee, or answer any urgent emails that might be vying for their attention.
Don’t speak too fast or too slow, too loud or too soft. Adjust your voice volume and speed according to the feedback from other participants. Use clear and concise language that everyone can understand, avoiding jargon and technical language, and summarise key points to ensure everyone understands.
Don’t interrupt or talk over others. Wait for your turn to speak and listen actively to what others have to say. Use nonverbal cues such as nodding or smiling to show interest and engagement. And while it’s important to facilitate the discussion, avoid monopolizing the conversation. Allow time for all participants to share their ideas and perspectives.
Solve technical issues quickly. Technical issues can arise during online meetings, and it’s essential to address them quickly and effectively. This may include rescheduling the meeting, using alternative technology, or troubleshooting technical issues with participants.
Don’t forget to follow up after the meeting. Share meeting notes, recordings, or summaries with everyone who attended or missed the meeting. Remind everyone of their action items and deadlines, and provide feedback or support if needed.