As online conferencing becomes more common, replacing the traditional board room entirely in some companies, there are still some who aren’t yet used to holding their meetings through a computer screen or aren’t conducting their conferences in the correct way. Many of the principles for online discussions are the same as they are for in-person talks, but there are still some additional things to think about, which can be easy to forget about if you aren’t used to them. Here are just a few things you should be sure to include in every one of your online conferences, and why they can benefit you:
A Scheduled Agenda
The Dummies Guide says that lack of proper focus is one of the major downsides to meetings, be they online or in-person. It is all too easy for a large group of people to begin arguments, go off on tangents, or forget what the discussion is intended to accomplish. You can avoid this by making the objective of the conference clear before it begins, in order to avoid an unnecessarily high amount of conferences which serve no purpose, which people really hate. Writing up an agenda with a scheduled time slot for each item and sticking to it during the conference will ensure that it remains on-topic and ends on time so that all participants can return to their regular jobs. If you feel that a meeting has gone off-topic, bring it back as quickly as you can in order to keep the proper momentum going.
Nerds on Site suggests that if you are the host, you should begin each session by introducing yourself and every other person on the talk. This is especially important for remote teams who don’t work in the same location as each other or when outside collaborators are brought into a project. It serves as an ice breaker that helps people to build a rapport that they will need to conduct talks effectively and develop positive working relationships. Be sure to leave a few minutes at the beginning of each meeting for introductions.
Allowing Each Person to Speak
A meeting isn’t the same as a seminar or lecture. It isn’t intended for several people to spend the entire time listening to a single person speak. That defeats the entire purpose of having one. Even worse is when one person tries to dominate the discussion, speaking rudely over others, interrupting them, and perhaps getting into an argument with another person that the rest of the team is forced to sit through. Instead, encourage every person to bring their own thoughts, opinions, and observations to the table so that everybody can benefit from them. If there are disagreements, let them be expressed properly rather than escalating into an argument. Video conference equipment makes this easy as there are options for the administrator to mute and unmute speakers, meaning there is no risk of a pushy person speaking over or interrupting others. If a member of your team is shyer or introverted, offer gentle encouragement for them to present their findings and then let them know that you value their input.
The great benefit of online conferencing over the board room is the range of options it offers, especially live streaming video clips with ease. Video has a much greater impact to present your argument, improve a pitch, or keep people interested in the meeting rather than becoming bored and nodding off. It may sound difficult, but it is easy to create a basic video, even with a smartphone and basic editing software, which can then be uploaded to your conferencing programme and played for each participant to watch. If you are looking for a way to liven up your meetings or make a stronger argument, consider using a short video clip.
Acknowledgement of Thanks
The people you work with are much more likely to respect you and feel valued in their jobs if they feel appreciated. You don’t need large gestures to show this but a series of small ones. Taking a few moments at the end of each session to thank everyone for attending and sharing their views is just one small way to make people feel appreciated and motivate them to continue doing a good job.
You have probably noticed already that most of the etiquette and essentials for an online conference are the same as they always were during in-person meetings, and yet the switch to new technology has still caused many people to forget about them. It is also easy to overlook the many advantages and additional features that the software provides that could be of benefit to your talks. Keep all of the above in mind during your future meetings and you will make a big impact and see each one functioning smoothly.