Hosting Successful Online Meetings

video_conference-smlAre you getting ready to host your first online meeting? Even if you’ve attended a virtual meeting before, you may not be sure exactly where to start when it comes to hosting one of your own. Thankfully there are some easy tips and tricks to making your meeting successful, no matter how experienced or inexperienced you are in digital presentation.

 

Before You Begin

Make sure that all your attendees receive no less than two reminders about the meeting, starting one week out. These can be sent via email, mentioned in-person if you have actual “real-life” contact with the colleague in question, or even sent via text message where appropriate. The first reminder should be one week before the event, with another between 24 and 36 hours prior; optionally you can also send a reminder three days before the meeting, but this is only recommended if you know your colleagues tend to be busy or absent-minded. Otherwise it can come off as “nagging,” and put people in the wrong frame of mind for your presentation.

The last reminder should be sent via email to all attendees and include a copy of the meeting agenda and any necessary documentation. While this is one of the ways that virtual meetings help cut down on paper waste, it also helps your colleagues to prime themselves for the meeting by reviewing the content and preparing any questions they may have in advance.

Remote working guru Lisette Sutherland recommends having a “dress rehearsal” by testing your audio and video well in advance. This not only assures that everything is in working order, it also helps you to be sure you know exactly what you’re doing with all your equipment before you start trying to present.

 

During the Meeting

There are, of course, a great deal of so-called “rules” to hosting an online meeting. Depending on where you are when you start your presentation, you’ll need to be sure that you dress professionally and your workspace is clean and clutter-free. Beyond appearance, PayScale recommends sticking to the agenda through the course of the meeting in order to keep the conversation as clutter-free as your workspace; everyone should have a copy of it already, so referring to it when you start to run short on time should be fluid and natural.

Other guidelines and recommendations for hosting an effective online meeting include:

  1. Don’t yell into your microphone. If someone says they can’t hear you, while everyone else can, raising your voice will only result in shouting at the other attendees in order to satisfy the faulty sound equipment of one. If you run into this issue, recommend that the attendee in question check their equipment, disconnect and reconnect, or utilize headphones for the course of the meeting.
  2. Keep gestures to a minimum. While talking with your hands may be acceptable for onsite and in-person meetings, when it comes to connecting and presenting online it’s a whole different story. Quick movements of the head, hands and body don’t transmit well via webcam, and often result in jagged blurs across the screen. If an attendee has a particularly slow connection, too much movement can actually cause their view of your video feed to freeze, thereby making it impossible for them to see your presentation properly.
  3. Be prepared for technical difficulties. Online meetings should always be scheduled between 10 and 15 minutes longer than an onsite meeting on the same topic, just to allow for the possibility of technical difficulties. If you do run into any problems during the course of the presentation, maintain and even keel and let your viewers know you’re having minor technical difficulties; you can use this opportunity to call a short five minute recess for a coffee or restroom break. By the time everyone reconvenes, you’ll generally have the issue worked out.

Another must for video conferencing is engagement. Make sure that your agenda allows for discussion and interaction from your colleagues, as video conferencing can otherwise feel like a pre-recorded university lecture and end up boring your viewers. Try to have someone taking minutes with you while others are in discussion.

 

Follow Up

After the meeting is over, email copies of the meeting minutes and any other notes to all attendees within 24 hours. Ask for feedback on the meeting, if possible, with a particular focus on your equipment. Small Biz Sense recommends making sure your tools are the best for the job first and foremost, but you can never be sure until after the meeting is over. Whether you’re working with Bluejeans or another video conferencing platform, you need to be sure that everyone got in and out of the meeting smoothly, without any major issues during the event itself. Small businesses may find great success Blue Jeans network for online meetings, but always make sure your attendees were satisfied with the platform’s functionality!

Aside from these tips, hosting an online meeting is just like any other meeting. Speak clearly, be organized, and don’t be too nervous. It’s much easier than you might think.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, Founder of Inspired Marketing, Inc., helps overachieving women entrepreneurs conquer limiting beliefs and create marketing plans that grow their businesses. This includes one-on-one marketing plan development, digital product creation, web design and content marketing. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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