Top ten tips for holding online meetings
1. Use software that everyone is comfortable with
All staff at the University of Derby have access to Microsoft Teams. If your staff need training on this system contact ITS
2. If you are chair, don’t try to moderate large meetings yourself
In a real-world meeting, the chairperson does not take minutes, nor are they responsible for ensuring that everyone has the right documents and that presentations are loaded prior to the meeting. The same is also true of virtual meetings. If they are formal or structured, appoint someone else to be moderator or co-moderator.
3. Laying the foundation for successful formal online meetings by encouraging informal online meetings
Encouraging informal online meetings where co-workers communicate through the online software, will make formal meetings more productive, as they will already be comfortable with the technology
4. Allow participants to see the agenda prior to the meeting
This will allow participants to gather all the information together in the right format to be able to show in the chosen software. Also, allow AOB’s to be added as it will save time in the session knowing these beforehand.
5. Etiquette for an online meeting
- Introduce everyone during the meeting, and give everyone a chance to contribute
- Turn mic off when your not talking
- Don’t stare at your phone while other people are presenting
- Don’t interrupt other people when they’re speaking (or attempt to speak over them)
- Test all technology (including camera/video, Wi-Fi, and screen sharing) before the meeting
- Read the agenda, and come prepared
- Don’t work on other tasks (like checking email) during the virtual meeting
- Turn off all notifications and make sure your cell phone is on silent
- Make sure all team members are in a quiet area free from unnecessary distractions
6. Get users to test their connection prior to the meeting
Obviously resolving any potential connection problems is better done before the meeting rather than during.
Be aware the first session you run through an online software won’t go perfectly, everyone will be getting used to it
7. Add extra time to the meeting
Although a benefit of using online meeting tools is that more efficient use of time can be made, it may not always be beneficial to do so. In real-world meetings people do not [aim] to arrive just as the meeting starts, the get there early to network and hang around after to discuss other matters. Buffer times can usually be added to meetings – let your participants know what the buffer times are so they can take advantage of it.
8. Be flexible
If a feature stops working or becomes unusable because of lag, adapt the meeting to get around it rather than postponing. Not everyone is guaranteed to have the same quality connection, so if one person is having problems following a PowerPoint presentation on the server, send them a local copy to use.
Familiarity with the functions and features of MS Teams or Collaborate (or any software) will make meetings run more smoothly and fluidly.
10. Online meeting follow-ups
In order for a meeting to be effective, every person needs to walk out with a clear objective. The key things everyone needs to know are:
- Deliverables and next steps
- Who’s responsible for following up on each item or task
- When those deliverables are due
- When the next meeting or check-in will be
And if you were the host, don’t forget that an important part of meeting follow-up is checking in with attendees about how well the meeting went, whether you choose to do so through a casual one-on-one conversation or by sending out a simple and anonymous feedback survey. Hearing from attendees may just give you ample ideas on how you can make future meetings even more inclusive and efficient for everyone involved.