Online meetings are the new normal, and probably will be for some time. According to BusinessWire, the COVID-19 pandemic has already produced massive growth in the video conferencing industry, and more is projected in the coming months.
But while they can be a lot more convenient—and safer, in these pandemic times—a day full of online meetings can be draining. Here are a few tips for keeping your online meetings more efficient and less taxing for everyone involved.
Have a Clear Agenda
If you don’t have a strong stated purpose for your meeting, it can be tough to keep things on track.
Before the meeting, develop and distribute a formal agenda that outlines all the topics you’ll be covering in the meeting, and which person is assigned to cover that topic (if applicable).
If other people are assigned to lead on some of the topics, make sure they get the agenda and are fully informed of their duties with ample time to prepare.
Appoint Someone to Moderate
No doubt you’ve had the experience of trying to hold a meeting in Zoom where everyone is trying to talk at once—and things devolve into chaos.
Online meetings in particular need a moderator to call on individuals to speak and keep everyone focused on the topic at hand.
Ask Participants to Prepare in Advance
Preparing in advance means making sure cameras and microphones work, everyone is well lit and the computer is set up in a quiet place, and that your meeting software will support the number of participants you’re planning to have.
Limit the Time of Your Meeting
If you have a hard limit on how much time you’re devoting to this meeting, you’ll get more done in less time. It can help to break down times assigned to each topic in your agenda, and assign someone to give a warning when the presenter gets close to the time limit.
Make Sure Everyone Understands the Action Items
What actions are people supposed to take after this meeting? If there are no action items, what was the point of holding the meeting at all?
During the meeting, it’s a good practice to assign action items to specific people and agree on a deadline before signing off, and disseminating an email later confirming what was agreed to. This way, hopefully you can avoid more meetings in the future clarifying everyone’s tasks.
Running an efficient online meeting can be a challenge—just as it can be in person. But if you’re careful about developing a formal agenda, limiting time, assigning a moderator, and setting firm action items for everyone, your meetings should run more smoothly.