HR Leads Business

Mar 11, 2019 | Geoff Whiting

3 Tips for Better Online Meetings

Online meetings may be a common occurrence in today’s business environment, but that doesn’t mean they’re all being run as well as they could be.

Part of the reason is that many see them as a waste of time. According to Doodle's 2019 State of Meetings report, the cost of poorly organized meetings in 2019 will reach $399 billion in the U.S.

Here are three ways you can run an online meeting that is concise, engaging and respectful of everyone’s time.

Set a Clear Agenda with Goals

Meeting agendas help you stay on track and on time, plus they give you a way to measure the success of any meeting. Ask yourself what the purpose of the meeting is and what you’re trying to accomplish, and then create the agenda and your to-do list.

Email the agenda ahead of time and use meeting software to display it during the meeting to keep meetings from veering off topic.
“Make sure that each attendee knows their role before the meeting begins,” says Justin Lavelle, chief communications officer for Been Verified. “It is fine to establish a time limit and remind attendees throughout the meeting. This doesn’t have to be intrusive but can be a tool to ensure that the agenda is completed on time.”

Leave Room to Breathe

Perhaps the most significant difference between online and in-person meetings is that you’re not able to pick up on body language or other nonverbal cues. Instead, you’ll need to go a little slower to make sure everyone has a chance to share their perspective. Computer connections can also have delays, so that reduced pace may also eliminate some cross-talk and interruptions as people try to ask questions.
“You must build in time for questions, or it could really cut into employee's workdays,” says John Rampton, founder and CEO of Calendar.com. “Start the meeting by asking if there are any questions from previous meetings to be covered first, so questions brought up later aren't backtracking.”

Accommodate Different Settings

Remote participants are in every type of location from busy homes and coffee shops to open-office plans. That creates lots of background noise. Eliminate it by asking everyone on the call to mute themselves and then calling on people directly to participate.

“This is not meant to be a power play,” says Yaniv Masjedi, chief marketing officer at Nextiva.  “This avoids distractions. Everyone loves commenting on a cute pup in the background!”
Masjedi also says the organizer should be aware of participants’ time zones when sending out invitations: “This seems so simple, but I can't tell you how many accidental no-shows we have had because people just assume a time was in their time zone.”

Agendas, a proper pace and awareness of attendee’s situations all point back to respect, which can be difficult to cultivate in an online setting. By employing these methods, your meetings can stay on time and encourage participation by making everyone feel valued.