How to Run an Effective Online Meeting

An effective meeting is short, to the point, and well-planned with the proper attendees. Inviting the wrong people and not planning out each topic is a good way to allow the meeting to spiral out of control. Keeping things organized will ensure the effectiveness of your meetings and make them easy to follow for new clients or team members. Here’s how to run an effective online meeting for professionals of any type.

Create an Agenda

No meeting is complete without an agenda. Your agenda acts as a guide for all in attendance, and helps to keep the conversation on track so you’re not spending half the day in your meeting. A good agenda will provide the guest list, time and date of the meeting, and the topics to be discussed; each with their own time slots.

It’s important to leave room at the end of each discussion topic for questions or comments from your audience in order to keep them engaged, and to ensure the information you’re presenting is being comprehended. Agendas should be emailed to participants ahead of time, so they can offer feedback or suggestions and ready their own materials to present.

Use Video Conferencing

Online video conferencing software can bring a level of professionalism and personality to your meetings. It’s always better to be able to see people’s body language when they’re speaking. Sometimes, a phone call or message can be misinterpreted due to lack of tone or other factors. Body language is an important part of communication, and seeing your team’s faces in the meeting creates a more personal connection.

There are many video conference services available on the web. There are free versions like Facebook Messenger (though this isn’t a very professional way to host a meeting) and paid versions that offer many more features other than just video conferencing.

If your meetings are lacking that “personal touch” you’re looking for, try using video conferencing at the next meeting. This will allow everyone to see the participants, connect names to faces, and interact on a more personal level. 

Introduce Team Members/Clients

Breaking the ice can sometimes be awkward, but with these team meeting ice breakers, you can easily introduce new team members or clients to your current team. Making introductions familiarizes your current team with new names and faces, and make the new addition to the call feel welcome.

Always state the name and title of any new participants, as well as their relevance to the meeting. For instance, “This is Greg, he’s our new Lead Designer. Here’s here to update us on the website’s progress and pitch some new design ideas.”

Keep it Short

Keeping your online meetings under an hour is the best way to maximize retention and keep everyone engaged throughout the entire meeting. Long meetings tend to be tiresome, and can cause their attendees to daydream, start side conversations, or even fall asleep!

Allocate blocks of time to specific subjects, and adhere to those time blocks as strictly as possible. If someone needs extra information or has extra questions, refer them to your email or office hours for a one-on-one conversation later on. Adhering to time requirements will ensure your meeting doesn’t take too long, causing those in attendance to become bored and uninterested in the material.

Stay on Track 

Part of remaining within your time limit is keeping the meeting on track subject-wise. It can be incredibly easy for a conversation to derail into office gossip or sports talk should the opportunity arise. You’ll want to isolate and extinguish and side conversations before they begin to take over the meeting.

If you’ve ever been in a meeting where side conversations erupted and took over, you understand how frustrating it can be. Discussion points are missed, the meeting usually runs over its time limit, and no one learns anything. Keeping order in your meetings is crucial to a successful presentation.

Invite the Right People 

Inviting the right people to your meetings can help you minimize distractions and side conversations. If you’re creating an agenda, be sure to thoroughly vet your guest list and eliminate guests that don’t actually need to be there. Trimming down the guest list will create a more streamlined meeting experience and keep everyone on track and on time.

If you’re unsure whether or not a specific person should attend the meeting, consider their relevance to the information at hand. Do they have experience with or are directly related to the subjects you’ll be discussing? If not, they probably don’t need to attend the meeting.

A well-thought-out guest list is a crucial part of any agenda. Don’t be afraid to be overly-picky about who makes the list; you want your meetings to be effective, efficient, and straight to the point. The right people in attendance will help it be so.

The Bottom Line

Meetings aren’t necessarily a favorite activity of any professional, but they don’t have to be entirely painful if you follow these simple steps. You’ll be able to host informative meetings without the stress of derailment or going over your time limit. Keep your meetings short, concise, and be sure to invite only the people that must be there. Always use an agenda when you’re planning a meeting, and include all the pertinent details on the first page. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback to see how you can improve your meetings!