How do you run a meeting when everyone is working from home? You can hold a conference call but to help stay connected when working remotely we recommend holding an online meeting over video.
A video meeting is nothing to be intimidated about and you don't even need to have special equipment, most laptops have a perfectly good webcam and a microphone.
To help you get started we have put together a guide to hold a great online meeting.
What are online meetings?
Online meetings (also known as virtual meetings) are meetings held remotely using an internet connection and a computer application. They work in a similar way to a standard video call but most online meeting providers offer more functionality than a standard video call.
In recent years online meetings have grown in popularity thanks to the increase in remote workers and the ease of use of the applications. If you are new to online meetings, do not worry you have nothing to fear.
How to run an online meeting
Pick the right platform
To get started you need to select an online meeting tool. There are plenty to choose from and they all come with their own strengths and weaknesses. Picking a tool will depend on which tool suits your team the best. When looking for a tool consider:
- What is the key aspect I need for this remote team meeting?
Are you interested in just being able to see your team? Then maybe video conferencing will be enough for you. Perhaps you need to work on a document together, a tool like Microsoft Teams will allow you to access files remotely and hold a video meeting. Do you need to share your screen? Then you need a tool that allows screen sharing.
- How many people need to be involved in your remote meeting?
While you can find effective options for a one-on-one video chat (your mobile phone for one) that might not be the right option for holding a meeting with over 20 remote employees.
You will find that whichever platform you choose (we have listed options at the end) setting up a meeting is quite simple. Make sure every one of your employees is aware of how to join or create a meeting.
Check your system
Don't wait until you want to run a meeting to test your systems. Nothing wastes more time than trying to get your microphone or camera set up during the meeting. Make sure your camera and microphone are working fine, and your meeting software supports multiple participants.
Communicate the agenda
We've all been in enough meetings to know that if there isn't a clear purpose or an agenda to the meeting they can quickly go off the rails. The same is true for online meetings. Prepare an agenda with the key issues to be discussed.
If you need help putting together an agenda make sure it includes the following:
- Key talking points
- Meeting structure (for example, when and for how long you plan to discuss each talking point)
- Team members/teams that will be in attendance
- What each team member/team is responsible for bringing to the meeting
- Any relevant documents, files, or research
Have a meeting chair
To help stay on track have someone 'drive' the meeting. Again this is about adding structure to the meeting and making sure it stays productive. Having a chair can help keep some order, everyone talking at once is far from ideal in a normal meeting, its pure noise in an online meeting.
Distractions can quickly knock a meeting off course. Make sure all participants are sitting in a closed and well-illuminated room with a clear background. Turn off anything that can make noise in the background. You may also find that it’s better to use headphones and a collar mic instead of your laptop’s mic to ensure clear communication.
Keep everyone engaged
A few minutes of friendly chat before diving into a meeting can really create the mood needed for a successful online meeting. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting checking in with everyone, catching up, or just having small talk about what’s going on.
Online meeting etiquette
The key to a successful video conference or phone conference meeting is to remember that you are in a meeting. To help meetings run smoothly follow these meeting etiquettes.
- Make eye contact by looking into the camera.
- Speak clearly and don't cover your microphone
- Keep body movements to a minimum
- Don’t work on other tasks (like checking email) during the meeting
- Don't interrupt other speakers
- Turn off all notifications and make sure your cell phone is on silent
These tips should help you hold a productive meeting no matter where your staff are based.
Online meeting platforms
Find an online meeting platform is not difficult because there are so many to choose from. We have listed some of the popular and most recommended options.
Features collaborative team messaging, video transcriptions, and customisable team settings.
In addition to hosting online meetings, Zoom allows you to host product training, video webinars, and more.
Comes as part of an Office 365 subscription and offers screen sharing and calendar options to all users.
HighFive does not use passwords or pin codes to join meetings; instead, users wait in a virtual meeting room until the meeting manager lets them in, making them more secure.
Free multiple communication platform that features phone calls, video conferences, and instant messaging for up to ten users.
In addition to video chatting, screen-sharing, and instant messaging, Adobe Connect allows you to create micro-sites, manage emails, measure engagement, and create persistent virtual rooms that you can customise to fit your brand.
You might be new to online meetings but they are nothing to be intimidated by. They are easy to set up and you quickly adjust to running a meeting remotely.
At Infotech we hold our remote meetings using Microsoft Teams. The platform allows us to share documents and files between team members and Teams has its own dedicated online meeting platform. We have run meetings with over 15 members and not run into a problem yet.
If you need helping setting up online meetings for your busines or anything else regarding remote working please get in touch. You can contact us here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 01634 52 52 52.