Your Guide to Successful Online Meetings

The who, what, where, when and how of successful and productive online meetings

Online Meeting Guide

After much anticipation, your organization just invested in an online meeting tool. You're eager to host your first online meeting, but you'll need to consider a few crucial factors before you jump in. Our step-by-step guide answers the what, who, when, where and how of successful and productive online meetings. We'll show you:

  • What type of online meeting best fits your group's needs

  • Who should lead and who should attend the meeting

  • When to plan a meeting for maximum attendance

  • Where to hold your meeting

  • How to run a successful online meeting

Before we get into these questions, let's answer the most crucial question ― why? 

Why choose an online meeting format?

If upper management isn't sure online meetings are worth the investment, point out video conferencing's many benefits. Online meetings: 

  • Facilitate participation from a distance, reducing travel costs and time required to bring people into the office.

  • Provide a record of the entire meeting without dilution or miscommunication from meeting participants. 

  • Allow easy information sharing with an entire team or department, reducing unnecessary repetition and follow-up meetings.

  • Enable fast, reliable, on-demand communication with clients and partners across the globe.

What kind of online meeting is right for your needs?

Decide which type of online meeting suits your agenda best: 

Audio-only meetings

Standalone audio meetings are perfect for quick touch-base sessions when you don't need Wi-Fi, video or screen sharing capabilities. Your meeting may involve discussing just a few items, sharing an important piece of company news, or alerting team members to a change in protocol. Make a note of who attends the meeting to serve as a record for future reference or follow-up. 

Video conferencing

Adding video to your online meeting can be valuable if the meeting involves a small, dispersed group or a virtual face-to-face with a client. Video conferencing builds better rapport and trust among meeting participants and strengthens communication by reducing the chance of misread nuances or tone. 

Who should lead an online meeting?

Identifying the best person for leading a meeting can be a challenge. The ideal leader may not always be the most senior person in the room. Choose someone who knows how to lead a meeting effectively ― an organized, natural public speaker who will keep the meeting on track.

Delegating responsibility is also key to a smooth meeting. Encourage your host to delegate specific tasks, such as keeping a written list of meeting highlights in case of a recording malfunction, and handling the meeting's Q&A portion.

When is the best time for an online meeting?

Selecting the best time for meetings is crucial to ensure solid attendance. Mondays are usually catch-up days for many, and by Friday, people are heading home early or thinking about weekend plans. Whenever possible, schedule your meeting mid-week and aim for a time slot between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Be sure to take into account attendees in different time zones.

The best advice on how to encourage participation in a meeting is to give attendees plenty of advance notice and send reminders. Be clear about the meeting's purpose and clarify the expected start and end times.

Where should you hold your online meeting?

The best environment for online meetings is a quiet room with space for your equipment and a blank wall as a backdrop. Encourage meeting participants to find a suitably quiet location as well and to mute their mics unless they are speaking. Be mindful that your attendees may be joining your meeting from:  

  • A remote workstation or from home

  • A business location in a different time zone 

  • A hotel, airport or overseas location

How do you run a successful online meeting?

Create a clear agenda to guide your online meeting. Figure out the meeting objectives, then break your session into segments. Decide how to convey the information in an organized fashion and prepare your source material in advance

Here are a few tips to help you conduct a killer presentation: 

  • Be descriptive with your words, especially when you're not using visuals

  • Screen share vital information, reports and key metrics

  • Use a slideshow to highlight points, but don't read directly from it

  • Keep your information pointed and on pace

  • Avoid distractions or interruptions that may derail the flow of the meeting 

At the end of the meeting, encourage participation via an "open mic" discussion or through a more structured Q&A session.

After your online meeting concludes, always send a follow-up email after the meeting to all attendees. Recap the session with key highlights and any conclusions or decisions that you reached. When possible, send a recording or transcript of the call. 

Now that you understand the benefits of online meetings, you're ready to plan, organize and execute a successful and engaging video conferencing session.


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