The Secret Guideline to Successful Online Meetings

May 15, 2020

If in the past, holding meetings may have felt like a nuisance, then today’s complicated situation has escalated the situation even further as most meetings have moved online. How to manage communication in-house, organize work with existing customers and even enchant new ones, and all of that from the ‘comfort’ of your own home? Keep reading to find out how to be successful in your preparation, how to effectively lead the meeting, and how to make a good impression!

Welcome to the e-world where nice offices, snacks and other “lights and whistles” no longer have the same impact

What makes a successful meeting with a client or prospect? Well, everything around us plays a big role: presentation equipment, office style, refreshments, snacks, a charming secretary who greets the guests and guides them to the conference room. Not to mention your own presence, appearance, emotions, tone of voice, and how diligent you have been in the preparation. 

At least that was the reality for many marketers just a few months ago. However, these simple tricks can no longer be used in e-meetings. That is why it’s time to establish yourself in e-meetings, where nuances such as technology and internet speed have become the determinators of a good and bad meeting instead.

If you want to impress anybody, it all starts with proper preparation. And although you can’t take your client to lunch or enchant them with your physical presence at the moment, you can still make sure that you are carefully prepared in the same way as you would for a regular meeting. 

5 simple steps to being prepared for any e-meeting:

  1. Test your computer (microphone, camera), as well as internet quality and speed
  2. Make sure there is enough light in the room and that the computer stays still
  3. Choose a background as neutral as possible (not too dark or light). It should not be too personal or gain attention. You can also opt for virtual backgrounds.
  4. Always be ready to show yourself in video, so dress nicely and professionally. 
  5. Reserve a class of water and headphones for a better voice quality.

However, if you are joining not just as a participant, but you are responsible for making the meeting happen altogether, you need to raise the level of your preparation game! Let’s go over the ways of how you can create a smoother experience for everybody involved!

Must-do things BEFORE a virtual meeting:

  • Make sure the platform you are using is comfortable and secure. Some of the platforms you may consider are Skype, Zoom, Webex, Streamlabs, Microsoft Teams, and so on. Learn all the technical capabilities and choose the one that fits your needs the best. 
  • Use a moderator. If you are in the leading role of a meeting and you need to present, it may be wise to invite a moderator to the meeting to help you technically if necessary. In that case you don’t need to worry about nothing other than the content itself!
  • Share the e-meeting link with technical guidelines and rules (video off/on, presentation order and so on) with the calendar invitation. If possible, add a reminder to everyone 10 minutes before the start, as technically it may take 5-10 minutes for people to join a meeting. If you have several e-meetings planned for the day, be sure to leave breaks in-between them.
  • Don’t forget to share the meeting agenda with the participants in advance. Make sure that everybody understands what is the purpose of the e-meeting.
  • If there is more than one presenter, make sure to agree to the presentation order and collect the materials in advance. For a smoother experience, you can ask the moderator to show the slides in agreed order.
  • If you need to be the one to make a presentation, make it rather short, clear, specific and relevant. Keep in mind that moving pictures, GIFs and videos may not play for various technical reasons. Use drawings, charts and graphs instead.
  • Agree beforehand whether participants should join with or without video to avoid confusion and inconvenience. If you need to present, join with video. If not, it may be better without. It is recommended that everybody is by default on mute and only unmute themselves to speak. That will eliminate any unnecessary background noise. As the host, you can also control the mute settings of participants.
  • If you need to share your screen, prepare carefully – close all the unnecessary browsers and files. Learn how to navigate between the e-meeting screen and your work files, practice it beforehand to ensure a smooth meeting.
  • If you need to take notes, let others know beforehand. Otherwise they may assume that you are just not paying attention and are multitasking. A better alternative may be to record your meetings, but make sure that participants have been notified and that everybody has agreed to that.
  • If you have prepared notes for the meeting, place them next to your laptop, so that you could use them as a guideline if some technical errors occur. 
  • To feel confident, preparation is the most important thing. Don’t forget – practice makes perfect!

Must-do things DURING the meeting:

  • A smooth technical flow ensures that a positive mood is set for the meeting. If someone has technical difficulties and they are not resolved within the first 15-20 minutes, find a solution – either agree on a new meeting time or ask those who cannot attend to watch the recording later. To prevent this situation altogether, share a short tutorial about joining and using the platform beforehand. Explain the logic of the chosen platform and give exact technical instructions.
  • Don’t get too close to the computer screen, don’t move too much, and find a stable surface for your laptop.
  • During screen sharing, make sure that image is held steadily. That means, don’t move the mouse too fast or don’t change the slides too quickly and hectically. People receive information differently, some need more time. Also, there may be a short lag between you sharing the screen and others seeing it.
  • Be sure to take breaks from the presentation to ask if everything is understandable, if the meeting speed is acceptable and if anybody has any questions.
  • Listen actively, don’t interfere, ask questions, reflect back on what you hear, and express your opinion. If you don’t dare to ask questions or publicly express your opinion, you can repeat other people’s thoughts with your own words to confirm that you listened actively and either agreed or disagreed.
  • Do not interfere with the speakers. Make sure that the rules for the meeting have been set. If somebody wants a word, instruct them to either press the “raise hand” button, to physically hold their hand up or to write in chat. This is also something that the moderator should explain in the beginning of the meeting.
  • Smile and be positive, don’t be influenced by technical problems!

PS! Follow-up activities are as important as preparation. Don’t forget to summarize the meeting by email to all the participants. This should include the relevant information about the decisions, agreed upon responsibilities and deadlines. Add clear guidelines for next steps.

You yourself are the best weapon to enhance your meetings!

The level of preparation and your self-confidence are reflected in e-meetings as well. Even if everything doesn’t go as expected, admit it and do not panic. Practice makes you stronger and your self-confidence will improve as a result of your development. Remember that setting yourself apart from the ‘grey mass’ by leveling up your e-meetings is one of the keys to making a successful first impression. Use this knowledge wisely for your own benefit!

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