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5 Tips for Productive Online Meetings

Guest Writer
Jan 07, 2021
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Apply these tips to conduct productive online meetings and make sure things run smoothly even without face-to-face interactions.

Online meetings have become an integral part of the new remote working model. In some cases, it is the only way teams can communicate with each other regarding the company’s operations. If done right, it’s possible to have highly productive online meetings. In this blog post, you’ll find 5 tips to help you achieve precisely that and make the most out of your meetings.

If you are one of the lucky ones to run an online meeting, you must first deal with the uncertainty of the outcome. Most managers prefer face-to-face meetings because they deem it to be much more productive. However, if done right, online meetings can be just as productive, if not more. 

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5 Tips for productive online meetings

1. Conducting a meeting

Getting everyone together for a meeting can be a daunting task, especially if people work remotely in different time zones. Select a time that works for all the attendees, so they are all on the same page. For instance, if one of your team members is in New York, an ideal time frame would be somewhere between 9 am and 10 am.

It is recommended to schedule online meetings in advance, so if there are any scheduling conflicts, they can be dealt with beforehand. However, if there are any last-minute meetings, ask your team members to have their overlapping time slots open. Doing so will ensure everyone knows when the meeting will take place.

2. Creating an agenda

Setting up a plan is a crucial part of the online meeting. It enables everyone to focus on the meeting’s goals and generally be on the same page. A definite plan is not only about a manager’s ability to run an online meeting. Instead, it is about creating an understanding for all the attendees considering they aren’t in the same room. 

Laying the foundation of the meeting agenda involves important discussion points, such as:

  • How long the meeting will last
  • Around how much time it will take discussing each point
  • The team members that will join the meeting
  • The role of each team member in the meeting

Specify the agenda topics using reports, Q&As, polls, and so on. If you want one of your team members to bring a relevant document or data, alert them in advance so they have time to prepare. Typically, attendees leave the meeting, thinking it was a waste of time. As a leader informing your group about the purpose of the meeting paints a clear picture for everyone and gives a sense of accomplishment when it is finished.

3. Be engaging and ask attendees to contribute

In a corporate setting, boredom will make it very difficult for you to conduct productive online meetings. Not to mention, boring meetings are every employee’s worst nightmare. They are long, tedious, and, if not exciting, attendees can get distracted very easily. As a manager, it is your job to keep everyone engaged. Start the meeting with a lively introduction, some bright visuals, and set up a few meeting traditions. 

Maybe have some fun trivia questions to keep everyone on their toes. Many managers engage their team members by playing online games in the first 5 minutes of the meeting. This approach helps prevent the attendees from dozing off and is a great ice-breaker.

Some introverts may be part of your team, and they might not feel comfortable speaking out on their own. Try and ask them to contribute to help them feel included and engaged. Employees are a company’s most important resource. It is imperative everyone feels like they have the capabilities to be part of the project. Asking each member of the team to contribute is a great way to get the engagement you want. However, it’s crucial to find a balance and avoid putting people on the spot.

4. Create deadlines

Setting time limits for online meetings will significantly boost productivity by helping you extract more value in a short time-frame. For example, you can set the meeting duration to an hour and assign 5 to 10 minutes to each discussion point. Doing so will help keep the team members focused, and no one will go off-track.

5. Clarify everything

Before adjourning the meeting, ensure the team members are clear on everything that was discussed. Have the attendees give you a recap of their discussion points. This will make sure everyone understands their responsibilities. It will also streamline the goals of the meeting, and the follow-up will go smoothly. 

The key to productive online meetings is to make sure everyone is clear on what was discussed and what the next steps are. Clarifying everything at the end is helpful, especially since you can’t read the body language and see facial expressions via online meetings.

The takeaway

Conducting productive online meetings in a new working environment with people in different locations can be challenging. However, if you spend a sufficient amount of time preparing and ensuring the meetings are well communicated and structured, they can become incredibly effective and valuable.

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