Tips for a successful online meeting
08 April 2020
How to make your online meetings a success.
As we all adapt to working from home and holding meetings ‘virtually’, it’s really useful to remember that what works in a face to face meeting, may not be so easily transferable into a conference or video call. But they can still be just as effective at getting results with a few simple adjustments.
Shorten the session
If you would normally have a two-hour live workshop, run a 60-minute online version, if your meetings are normally an hour, schedule 45 minutes online. It is harder to focus and stay tuned in online. Compress your content, leave people feeling engaged and energised and if it needs to be a longer session, take plenty of breaks.
Avoid technical complication
Be sure the system works, the slides work, the sound works. Always run a test. Avoid movies, sound recordings, etc. Compress the pictures on your presentation slides to reduce file size and bandwidth, thus reducing the risk of freezing or unresponsive connections. Do all you can do to make the technical experience trouble-free.
What’s true for a live event, presentation or meeting is doubly true for an event online. Keep your messages brisk. Use short sentences. No more than a few bullet points on a slide. Short truly is sweet.
Manage the pace
Video conference meetings should actually move at a slightly slower pace than a typical meeting due to a two to three-second delay for most systems to communicate. If you're leading the meeting, make sure there are sufficient pauses after asking a question.
Use an ‘audible nod’
Online meetings lack the social cues to make the conversation flow so you need to pass the baton to the next speaker. Saying something like “I’m going to hand over to Jill now” or “Back to you David” will help to keep the flow.
Call on people
It is very easy to check out in an online meeting. Try not to go more than five minutes without asking a question — even if you just ask participants to write quick answers in a chat box. This gets people’s thoughts going. When you do want an answer, call on someone by name. If you want input from everyone, tell the group and invite someone to start, then call on the next and so on, so you don’t get silences or people talking over each other.
If you’re presenting information, be lively
Nothing is worse than a dull monotone voice, reading the points on a screen. Modulate your voice more than usual, change your speech rhythms and throw in a silly joke— whatever works with your personality. The key is to be a little unpredictable.
Interrupt your own flow
It’s great when people ask a question in a chat box or via voice that forces me to take a small detour, tell a story, explain a point that is only sort-of-related. When they don’t do that, I do it myself — come up with a useful digression. This wakes people up and affords you the chance to make interesting new connections. Don’t be a slave to your presentation slides.
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