Important Things To Remember When Hosting An Online Meeting [Contributed Blog]

October 22, 2020 - 10 minutes read - Contributed Posts, Remote Agency

In recent months, online meetings have seen previously unprecedented insurance in popularity – due to the fact that they allow people to work from the safety and comfort of their own homes. With the pandemic likely to continue affecting businesses and companies globally into 2021, you must use online meetings and conferences to your advantage. In fact, they are a great way to help your business thrive during this difficult time. 

However, you may be more used to delivering meetings in person, with face-to-face contacts, whereas online meetings are quite different. As a result, we’ve put together a list of things you need to pay attention to when hosting an online meeting or seminar. 

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Cut out distractions.

Whether you’d like to admit it or not, we’ve all been a little guilty of allowing our minds to wander during a meeting, even when we are the host. Perhaps you are distracted by something happening in the background, looking over at your phone is just too tempting or you are thinking about what you are going to cook for dinner after work.

With that in mind, you must try to minimize the distractions around you and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Firstly, set up a space in your home where you will host the meetings. If preferable, work against a plain background with good lighting, so that you are the focus of the screen. You should, if possible, avoid working in your bedroom. Doing so means you will associate the space with working and feeling stressed, meaning you may find it harder to sleep. When hosting a meeting, shut the door to the room to ensure you aren’t disturbed – although, nobody would mind if a friendly cat or dog walked into the frame. 

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You may also feel more focused if you turn off your phone and request that other participants do the same. This means that you are focused on the meeting and the meeting alone. Any texts or phone calls can wait until afterward. If you can, eliminate any background noise by ensuring you aren’t playing music or your TV cannot be heard in the background. 

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Focus, Focus, Focus.

For one reason or another, online meetings seem to lack the same sense of direction and focus as a meeting in person does. Perhaps, as people are less busy during this time, it feels almost as though the pressure of having a concise meeting is eased somewhat. However, this does not mean that you should not try and keep the meetings brief and efficient to better maximize your time and promote productivity within the workplace. If you are meeting with clients, you do not want to take up too much of their time either.  A brief meeting that covers all the necessary points is far more useful than a longer meeting where you frequently go off-topic.

One way in which you can maximize productivity and efficiency is by laying out at the start of the meeting what needs to be discussed and allocating a certain amount of time to that discussion. For example, you may talk about an upcoming product for 15 minutes, before moving on to discussing your marketing strategy. Encourage people to speak clearly and concisely, and minimize small talk when possible. Doing so will help everybody stay on track. 

If your colleagues are missing being able to communicate with each other and talk about their lives, why not host a weekly zoom ‘drinks’ before the weekend as opposed to extended meetings? This will allow them to interact with each other positively and can act as something to look forward to throughout the week. 

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Presentation matters

Although you are at home and might be far more comfortable sitting in your coziest pair of pajamas, it is important to remember that presentation always matters, especially if you are meeting with an important client or customer, or meeting somebody for the first time. First impressions last. Before lockdown, you would simply not enter a meeting wearing your favorite PJ set, no matter how stylish they may be. Therefore, the same should be said for when you are hosting an online meeting. Although you do not have to be overly made up, ensure that you always appear professional and well-dressed. You can always slip into something comfier once the meeting is over and you return to your usual work!

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Glasses are also an important part of your work ‘uniform’, so to speak. Be sure to choose a pair that matches your personal style whilst providing you with the additional support you need. Furthermore, finding the perfect pair of glasses is more important than ever when working from home, and hosting online meetings means you will be spending more time in front of a screen than you are used to. Increased screen time can lead to serious eye strain, which wearing glasses can easily combat. If you don’t feel as though you have the time to head in-store to find your perfect glasses, you can browse through hundreds of designer brands and styles at Eyeglasses.com, including stylish cat-eye frames.

Improve focus through interaction.

In a regular meeting, a client and colleague will be able to raise their hands should they have any questions and productivity often thrives when people can freely interact with each other. Unfortunately, online meetings are often less interactive, with people feeling as though they must listen and not interrupt. Find a way to encourage those listening to interact with you, be that through raising their hand and turning on their microphone, or using the chat function on your meeting platform. This will improve the overall productivity of the meeting and ensure that everyone feels valued and that their voice is being heard. Remember, you are not giving a lecture, you are hosting a meeting where everyone should feel free to contribute. 

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Send a follow-up email

Sometimes, as soon as a meeting or phone call ends, we forget everything we have talked about during this time. It is easily done, especially when you are balancing a hectic work schedule, and dealing with all of the changes 2020 has thrown our way. Therefore, after a meeting, you may wish to send a follow-up email that summarizes what has been discussed and covered, with action points to guide your colleagues through the next. Furthermore, many of the online meeting platforms allow meetings to be recorded, which can be useful should you need to go over anything a second time yourself. 

In this follow-up email, you should also take time to ask for any feedback on how they are finding this new way of working and whether or not they found the meeting useful/productive. As you’ll already know, there is simply nothing worse than a meeting that could have been an email. Staying in touch with your employees during this time is vital in succeeding moving forward, and by asking for their feedback you can make necessary changes before the next meeting. 

In short, you should treat an online meeting the same way you would treat a face-to-face meeting, after all, you will likely be covering the same content – the only thing that has changed is where you are sitting! As a result, you should always be punctual and professional, especially when acting as the host. Start the meeting on time and ensure you allocate plenty of time to discuss all the necessary points without going too far off track – putting you firmly on the path towards success and ensuring that each and every voice is heard and respected.

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