Most online meetings bear little resemblance to in-person meetings regarding persistence, engagement, and productivity.
In most cases, the deviation from the course during online meetings occurs in one of two scenarios: either everyone is sitting there as if their mouths have watered, as the oppressive silence is broken from time to time by individual monologues, or everyone is haphazardly trying to insert their five cents, which reminiscent of an unrestrained village wedding. In both cases, we get a worthless result.
Follow the tips below to make online meetings as lively and productive as in-person meetings.
Use a Formal Agenda
If you don’t have a clear plan, participants will think you’re just trying to “chat” rather than solving a problem, sharing ideas, or making a decision. Have the agenda in writing and send it to participants at least a few days in advance to give them time to prepare.
Also, repeat it from time to time during the meeting.
Formulate Topics of Conversation in the Form of Questions
Avoid this typical format:
- sales for the third quarter;
- an exhibition stand at an international conference;
- marketing campaign of the competitor.
Instead, frame the topics as questions in a way that helps guide the discussion rather than turning it into a jumble.
Specify the Format for Each Topic on the Agenda
In the written copy of the agenda, specify the format for each topic: “for open discussion,” “reporting only,” “questions and answers,” “participant survey,” “for recommendations,” and “for decision making.” Often, participants leave the meeting feeling like time was wasted because no decisions were made. However, you, as the organizer of the forum, could only aim to raise a certain issue and listen to comments. If you inform the participants of the goals of the meeting in advance, the feeling of the completed task will remain in the team after each discussion.
Set Aside Time to Discuss Each Topic
Time frames can be adjusted during the meeting. However, by specifying the time, everyone will know what you expect from them. If the agenda states that Petrenko has to report the results of laboratory tests and he is given 5 minutes for this, he will not spend time preparing a 30-minute slide show.
Warn the Responsible Person in Advance
If somebody has to present certain data for further discussion, let it not be a surprise for him. Mark him on the agenda as a “person in charge” to allow him to prepare for the presentation.
Summarize and Indicate
Summarize and indicate what further actions you expect from each. This should be done on the agenda.
Keep in mind that participants in online meetings often struggle with the strong urge to shift their attention to a cell phone screen or a pile of unsorted documents. Summarize the key findings and decisions and write them in the blank column of the displayed agenda. Then, in the last column, indicate who is responsible for what and by what date.
That’s all. The completed agenda will now serve as the minutes of the meeting. Return the final version of the agenda to all participants and those who were unable to join you.