Like regular meetings, web conferences have three essential steps to run smoothly: planning, hosting, and then following up. So, some of the tips you’ll find in this article are similar to what you should do with face-to-face meetings. That being said, there are a few particularities to virtual meetings that you need to consider.
1. Planning Your Online Meeting
Poorly planned meetings never go well. They’re more time consuming, unproductive, and stressful. So, as you would do with face-to-face meetings, you have to plan your virtual meetings as well. This means ensuring that you only invite participants who are necessary for the session, schedule an timeframe that works for everyone, and set up a reminder for before the meeting starts. The good news is that web conferencing software providers like BlueJeans do all of this automatically by integrating with your email service.
2. Prepare Your ‘Studio’
Regardless if you’re at the office or at home, it’s essential that you always prepare your workspace before starting a virtual meeting. This means testing your camera, microphone, and internet connection beforehand, but also ensure that you have the right lighting and a clear space around you. GoToMeeting even allows you to blur or change your background.
3. Lead the Meeting Right Off the Bat
The main difference between face-to-face meetings and online ones is that the participants won’t know for sure when to talk. It’s harder to understand when someone is going to intervene, and most people are afraid of cutting someone off. That’s why you, as the meeting’s host, need to ensure that everyone knows when it’s their time to speak. If the participants don’t know each other, start the meeting by asking each participant to present themselves. However, instead of asking who wants to go first, direct your question to one person. The same goes when you want feedback about something in the middle of the meeting. Don’t just throw questions up in the air, but always direct them to one of the participants.
4. Use the Provided Tools to Increase Engagement
When you’re leading a meeting face-to-face, it is easy to understand the room’s vibe and adjust to it right away. You can clearly see if people are engaged, bored, or just answering work emails instead of paying attention. With virtual meetings, it’s not as easy. Especially if you’re presenting something, it’s almost impossible to manage your slideshow and check everyone’s cameras simultaneously. Fortunately, with web conferencing platforms such as Zoom, you can use plenty of tools to enhance participants’ engagement, such as interactive polls, a ‘raise hands’ feature, or the built-in whiteboard.
5. Follow up on the Meeting
When the meeting is over, it’s time to do the follow-up. Fortunately, web conferencing software has your back on this. Platforms like Microsoft Teams provide the option to record the meeting’s full length or highlights that you can then share with all the participants. There are even web conferencing software providers that come with a built-in video editor. If words are more your thing, you can also activate the meeting’s transcription to be sent automatically when the web conference ends.
If you use web conferencing software to its fullest, online meetings not only will work as well as physical ones but can even surpass them.
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