10 Tips To Make Your Online Meetings More Productive

10 Tips To Make Your Online Meetings More Productive
Summary: With offices spread across different geographical locations, remote meetings have become a norm for most organizations. But the biggest challenge of these meetings is to keep people engaged and interested. This article lists some ideas that could make these meetings more productive.

How To Make Your Online Meetings More Productive

Not only have remote meetings become the norm, but the same concept also applies when there are remote or ‘stay-at-home’ employees who need to meet with everyone else. And then there are clients or vendors who need to collaborate with internal teams regularly. All these cases indicate that online meetings are here to stay. But the biggest challenge of these meetings is to keep people engaged and interested since you can’t clearly see and hear everyone, unlike face-to-face interactions.

What needs to be figured out is how to make these meetings more engaging and productive. Can the same set of rules that applies to face-to-face meetings be applied to online meetings to make them work, or do you need something different? Let’s look at some ideas that could work well. Some of them might be very basic but still, hold a significant value in improving the performance of these meetings.

1. Use Collaborative Software

Choose any good software from the abundant options available (WebEx, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, and Skype for Business). Such software manages conversations, ensures that everyone is on the same page, lets participants show hands or ask questions, and helps record comments and messages to help everyone follow the conversation.

2. Have A Well-Defined Agenda In Place

Getting together people for an online meeting is a lot of effort, so it is ideal not to waste any more time during the meeting. If you have a pre-planned and well-defined agenda in place, chances are that participants will be more engaged. Share the agenda with others ahead of time so that everyone knows what they are expected to contribute and can prepare accordingly.

3. Start With An Icebreaker

An icebreaker is a great medium to break the initial ice between participants and create a positive atmosphere at the onset. It lightens up the mood and breaks any social barriers, leaving participants more willing to contribute. Icebreakers can be in the form of questions, trivia, or something as fun as a virtual game. In fact, almost any icebreaker you do in a face-to-face meeting can also be carried out in online meetings.

4. Introduce Everyone

This is probably the simplest trick of the lot. Introduce everyone attending the meeting. Include pictures of attendees on the wall if video is not being used. It personalizes the voice that other participants hear, making them more willing to indulge in a discussion.

5. Make It Interactive

Boring meetings are tough to sit through. You need to make your meeting fun by making it interactive. Use good visuals or lively interactions from time to time to make the meeting more exciting. Let participants play a virtual game around the meeting theme or run a poll in between the session to seek participant inputs on a significant point of discussion. You could also have them brainstorm about the topic being discussed through virtual trivia or flash cards. Use a powerful, yet easy to use, interactivity building tool like Raptivity to build such digital interactions.

6. Avoid Static PowerPoints

Nobody enjoys a flat, slide-turner PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoints need to be exciting, engaging, and fun, especially when used in online meetings. Think about using the right animations and impactful visuals. Insert interactions wherever necessary. You could also use some good PowerPoint add-ins available in the market to help you create extraordinary presentations.

7. Make Small Talk

Small talk helps feel people connected. A passing mention about the weather at your place or a joke that gets everyone laughing is good enough to get participants going. These breathers work as quick mental breaks and let participants feel at ease with the whole setting.

8. Keep It Short

Don’t drain participants’ attention spans with extra long meetings. Anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes is a good duration to follow when conducting a meeting. Stick to the originally decided timeline, and prevent the atmosphere from getting snappy.

9. Send Meeting Notes That Work

Minutes of the meeting are a thing of the past. Nobody wants to read through detailed notes listing down each point that was discussed in the meeting. Instead, send out actionable insights to the participants. A concise follow-up email that summarizes who is working on what with the anticipated timelines is a lot more effective than meeting minutes.

10. Review Your Meeting

Last but not least; review your own meeting once it is over. Ask the participants which parts or moments they liked best and which ones least. What made them feel useful? Was there something that could have been skipped or included to make the meeting better? Encourage them to provide honest feedback so that you could improve the quality of your further meetings.

With these 10 tips, typical online meeting frustrations can be kept at bay, and you can get everyone connected and contributing. Let me know what your thoughts are about these ideas. If you feel there is anything that I missed, feel free to add it through the comments below.