How to make an online meeting a productive meeting
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How to make an online meeting a productive meeting

20th December 2019
By Tom Ladle

Let’s face it, meetings can be scary, especially if you’re relying on tech to get the job done. It’s estimated that in 2020 half of the UK workforce will work remotely, so the reliance on tech to carry out work is only going to increase. That’s why it’s essential to embrace meeting solutions and face any fears they conjure up, before you know it you’ll be having productive meetings wherever whenever.

The proof is in the planning

‘Plan your work and work your plan’ – Napoleon Hill. That’s right, the first step to having a productive online meeting is to plan it beforehand. We’re not saying plan extensively for months on end (this would be excessive) but it wouldn’t hurt to send around an agenda before. This let’s everyone know what you expect to achieve from the meeting. This can be included in the  invite if you want everything in one place. If people understand what the call is going to be about before it takes place, it should prevent any dilly dallying and ensure you get straight to the point.

Polite and punctual

One way to completely derail a meeting is by arriving late. This isn’t as much of a problem in a real-life meeting, as the latecomer can come slinking into the room without causing much disruption. However, with an online meeting you will often get a cue letting everyone know the person has joined the meeting. This can be distracting and interrupt the flow of the meeting. An easy way to avoid this situation is to just join on time. This avoids any time wasted waiting for people. If the reason for being late is out of your control, then don’t bring the meeting to a halt by asking for a rundown on everything that’s been said.

Promote participation

Many meetings turn stagnant from lack of participation – no one wants to listen to an hour-long monologue. Meetings work much better if they’re a collaborative effort. Make sure that you’re asking for people’s input, if you’re not then it is very easy for other people on the call to zone out and become a snooze fest (no one wants that).  You’re more likely to get something out of a lively discussion than you are from talking at people, on the whim that they’re going to register everything you’re saying.

Short and sweet

Unfortunately, people are often limited by their attention spans. No matter the person, there is a limit to how long they can stay focused on one thing before daydreaming and drifting to thoughts of what they’re going to make for dinner that night. Obviously, some meetings will have to be longer than others depending on the depth of what is being discussed but do bear in mind duration. If it’s a particularly meaty topic then maybe stagger the meetings over a couple of weeks. Try to keep the discussion topic succinct and easily digestible. This will save time in the long run as everyone comes out the meeting remembering exactly what was discussed and the required actions.

Deciding on tech for your meeting

Banish conference call jitters

A conference call product is still the go to for many UK business. It’s built on tech that people consider reliable, the telephone, so it’s often seen as the most reliable. If you’re not the most confident person on the phone then a conference call can understandably cause panic.

You’ll be happy to know we’ve got some straightforward and easy ways to improve your confidence on calls:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Practice your greeting
  • Focus on your tone
  • Ask one question at a time
  • Don’t be afraid of silence

To learn more about how best to put these points in to practice check out a more detailed explanation how to conference with confidence.

Embrace video in video calls

The video in a video call is an integral part of the whole experience (durr). Including video in your meeting makes it feel more personal and helps avoid any miscommunication you may experience on a phone call. So, what to do when you’re camera shy and the thought of turning your webcam on sends shivers down your spine? Bear in my mind these useful tips:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Remember, you’re your own worst critic
  • Dress appropriately

We’ve got a whole post based around taking the fear out of video if this checklist has piqued your interest.

Wow with webinars

They say people fear the unknown. Many people are still not familiar with how to best use a webinar platform and are unaware of the benefits of online events. These benefits include reducing costs, interacting with your target audience, building credibility and brand recognition, generating more leads etc etc. Hosting an online event does involve a certain amount of risk (like most things) but if done properly the rewards can be huge! The four most common fears around webinars include:

  • Low attendance
  • Stage freight
  • Tech issues
  • Minimal engagement

Luckily all these fears can be addressed. It comes down to experimenting and practicing with the tech. This makes it easier to work out what works and what bombs, allowing you to reap the biggest rewards for your business. Unless you have a severe case of beginner’s luck, you most likely won’t pull of your most successful online event first try. So, face your webinar fears and explore all the platform has to offer.

Adopting solutions for the win

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” – Mr Einstein. Adapting to and eventually embracing meeting solutions means more success in the long run. You’ll be perfectly comfortable in a world of remote workers and stay productive no matter what.