6 Tips for Productive Online Meetings.

There’s no way around it, remote meetings have just become an essential part of business communication and workflow. 


If you’re one of the many people who are now working from home due to the Coronavirus outbreak. You probably feel like you’ve been thrown into the deep end when it comes to online meetings. Even if you’re used to remote meetings, keeping business running without any face-to-face communication at all can feel like an uphill battle at times. 


I left teaching around 12 months ago, to start working as a freelance copywriter. There were a lot of changes to my day-to-day working life, but the one that threw me the most was the shift from in-person meetings, to digital. 


When it came to meeting new clients, conducting business, keeping up clear communication, and following up on tasks - there were times where I was out of my depth. I had to learn the hard way, that when it comes to a video meeting, rather than one face-to-face, different rules apply. 


Online meetings are a way of life for me now, so here are the 6 tips I wish I had known about running a successful and productive online meeting 12 months ago! 


Before the Meeting


1 - Plan and Share the Agenda 

Gathering everyone together for a remote meeting, especially if you’re in different time zones, takes a lot of effort. In order to not waste time, as well as be clear about the meetings intentions, plan out a specific agenda, and stick to it throughout. If possible, share the talking points ahead of time so everyone can prepare. 


2 - Include the Right People 

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve booked a meeting with a client, to find that the whole office is in the room behind them. The truth is, the larger the number of participants, the more difficult is to hold a productive meeting. Large meetings hinder everyone's ability to effectively contribute to the conversation, meaning things inevitably go off track. What takes 10 people an hour to decide, can take 3 people 10 minutes. Just make sure you only invite people who need to be there, and then take notes of key points to share to others after. 


During the Meeting 


3 - Introduce Everyone First 

If there are more than 2 of you, the first step should always be to get everyone to clarify who they are, and their role. This is especially important if you have no video, only audio. In meetings where you need a higher number of people, having people say their name first before speaking is also helpful. It can feel strange at first, but is the most effective way to keep track of the meeting and communication. 


4 - Ask People Directly to Contribute 

Without the ability to read social cues, it can be difficult for everyone to know when to chime in during a digital meeting. Asking for input directly helps everyone feel engaged in the meeting, as well as help it flow more smoothly. A quick ‘what do you think?’, works wonders to ensure everyone has their say, and ensure the meeting is as productive as possible.


After the Meeting 


5 - Send a Follow Up

Once the meeting has ended, make sure you email out the main points of the meeting, and clearly detail all actionable tasks with completion dates. It should be like any other face-to-face meeting, don’t assume that everyone took away the same key points and plan of action. And, definitely don’t assume everyone was taking notes. 


6 - Continue to Check in on Actionable Tasks 

Personally, I’ve found that for remote working relationships to be successful, it’s important to remain even more outcome-oriented than before. Sending quick check-in or update emails on tasks as they happen helps to make sure that everyone is on the same page, and that tasks are getting done! 


These 6 easy steps should not only help you keep your online meetings as productive as possible, but also make working from home a little easier.

 

 

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