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You might think that online business meetings cannot possibly be as effective as in-person meetings.

Think again!

During this pandemic we have no choice but to meet online.   While a virtual meeting cannot replace personal contact, there are many ways to manage virtual meetings to get better outcomes than you would by sitting around a table.

Have shorter meetings

If your virtual meetings aren’t shorter, they should be.

‘Zoom fatigue’ has entered the lexicon – online meetings are more tiring than in-person.   The most obvious reason is that staring at your mirror image makes one self-conscious.   It takes real strength of mind not to worry about your appearance.   You also cannot shift on your chair without wobbling on video. Extroverts feel that they do not get a chance to interact with their colleagues and introverts don’t enjoy being on camera.

These are a few in-depth articles you could read for more information:

Zoom fatigue is real — here’s why video calls are so draining

‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens.

Here’s Why You’re Feeling Zoom Fatigue

 

Get great participation

Let’s face it, getting participation during a any meeting can be a challenge – but technology we have at our disposal makes it possible to energize and involve people.  It does mean that the host needs to do more preparation than walking into a room and starting a meeting with an icebreaker, but this can be a good thing to give structure to your meeting.

Here are some of the do’s:

  • Enabling the waiting room and be online five minutes before the meeting starts to allow some socializing among colleagues.
  • Plan an activity to energize participants, particularly during those unavoidable long meetings. Here’s an article which will give your thinking a kickstart:

https://www.sessionlab.com/blog/online-energizers/

  • I nclude opportunities for interaction on the agenda.
  • Collect input with polls and surveys.
  • Your Q & A sessions are livelier and more productive with live chat enabled – more people ask more questions. You have a written record to help you collate topics and give comprehensive answers.   This also means that you can address any unanswered questions later.

 

Take control

You can control participation and eliminate most disruption by setting your preferences for each meeting.

  • If you want everyone’s full attention – disable private chats.
  • To encourage discussion – enable chats.
  • Use opinion polls and surveys to dynamically involve your audience.
  • Control who attends with unique passwords.
  • Prevent disruption in your meeting preferences – you control whether participants can mute their microphone and/or video.
  • And you can avoid those potentially embarrassing moments which go viral on social media too! Simply take what precautions you can to avoid disruption at home and remember that you are on video.

 

Bring in the experts

Do you need a consultant to give a quick insight?  No problem – give them a time slot and they can join online for as long as their time allows.   You will find that it’s much easier and cheaper to have outside experts speak at your events when they don’t need to travel at all.

 

Find the right service for you

The tech giants and the newbies are racing to bring more and better features to market.    Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom Meetings are the biggest names in the news at the moment, but more and more options are available almost every day.

If you are shopping for the best platform for your business, visit technology comparison sites such as G2CrowdPCMag Business Software Index or Capterra  to compare features, benefits and pricing.

These are some features to consider:

  • Which face to face view do you prefer?
  • Do the analytics provide all the information you need?
  • How secure is the software?
  • Does it integrate with all the collaboration tools and software you are already using, or offer new aspects you will benefit from?

Use collaboration tools

You might be content with the collaboration tools built into your software but need additional features.  No problem – you will find technology which integrates with systems you are already using.   Some of the features which I find most useful are:

  • Screen sharing.
  • Whiteboards and parking lots.
  • Live chat (group or private). Chat is your opportunity to increase collaboration and keep everyone on the same page.  Some of the actions you can take are:
    • Link your agenda in chat.
    • Link shared documents.
    • Answer questions as you go, or park them on a whiteboard.
    • Solicit and expand on ideas.

 

Record keeping made simple

Record your meeting with a mouse click and save it to the cloud where you can access it later.    Depending on the software you use, you can even get a transcription within minutes.

 

Analyse and monitor your progress

Use the analytics provided by your software for ongoing improvement.  Find out which topics are popular, view and save poll results and create infographics.

 

Make the paradigm shift

In conclusion, although we have no choice other than meeting online during a pandemic, we can choose to make the most of the options we do have. Whether you are new to video conferencing or an old hand, technology changes provide ongoing opportunities for improvement.

Embrace the benefits, be more effective, and enjoy your meetings!

 

Image by Lynette Coulston from Pixabay