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How to run successful online meetings

Bryan Smith
Feb 26, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Making successful online meetings is about attendance, tech simplicity, and tech support.

Figuring out what you want to say in those meetings is something that you’re naturally going to develop yourself as long as you’re not stifled by these three stumbling blocks.

In 2020, more enterprises and similar-sized organizations are making the shift to start having their meetings in the digital space.

There are loads of reasons for this:

  • It’s instantaneous, meaning you don’t have to invest time having people travel to meetings
  • It’s cheaper
  • There’s always a record of video meetings for future reference and record-keeping purposes
  • Virtual meetings can be better than in-person meetings if you utilize features like screen sharing, multiple video feeds and other tools to keep people focused
  • It becomes much easier to keep organizations with multiple locations or remote teams on the same page
  • Modern video quality allows people to share facial expressions and keep eye contact just like they are in a face to face meeting

There are tons of very valid reasons why companies are now taking this direction in the digital age. However, there’s a problem: You still have to make that shift.

As a middle-manager, you are now responsible for putting together and hosting these webinars and meetings online, and they are quite different from just having everyone sit around the long table.

Potentially, there’s a lot at stake with how well your first few meetings go. Adopting and using online collaboration software can be invaluable for your organization in helping it grow, adapt, and evolve to the increasingly faster-paced world we live in today.

If your organization fails to adopt this just because the first couple meetings kept going wrong then you could be left behind. So it is actually important that these first few meetings do not go wrong.

There are a couple of ways that they can go wrong, too.

Firstly, you could fail to have people even join the meeting in the first place due to technical difficulties, or just failure to organize.

There are tons of software options in the online collaboration space. Most of them require awkward installation procedures that have device dependencies and all kinds of headaches.

The best conferencing software options have flexibility – meaning that users can join with the web browsers they already have at the click of a button, while event organizers can opt for full dedicated software installations and complex hardware setups if they choose to bring a lot to the meeting. The only thing they should care about is their internet connection so they can stay focused on the meeting.

Another common way for these to fail is participation rates. Sometimes we see upper management be excited about new software and collaboration standards, but it fails to get adopted throughout the organization because people just don’t attend.

Usually, this failure to attend virtual meeting rooms instead of actual meeting rooms isn’t because people have such a strong preference for stopping what they are doing to go physically move themselves to a room with a table.

Generally, when you tell people that they can now just show up to their meetings on their phones or at their desks or even in the field – they’re pretty on board with that.

The reason why people don’t attend the video conferencing is that they’re just not that aware of them in the first place.

Forward planning and the use of pre-registration tools are really important to use in conjunction with your meeting software. It’s infinitely easier to get someone to commit to the idea of doing something in the future than it is to force them to make a change right now.

If you tell someone “Hey Greg, stop what you’re doing and get on this online meeting right now.” They aren’t going to like it, and they’ll feel like even clicking the link to join on their phone is a cumbersome and negative process.

If you tell the same person “Hey, we’re moving our meetings to all be online and the next meeting is in a week. You can do it on your phone and here’s how easy it is to set it up.”, they go “Oh… Okay. Cool.” And they’re more inclined to be an adopter because they see the tool as what it is. A tool to ultimately help them, not just yet another thing that management is requiring of them. Therefore, you should be paying attention to the “how” when introducing web conferencing in your organization.

Proper collaboration software is made by experts in this field, who have built this industry from the very beginning. They intimately understand the pitfalls that you are going to face, and will make features to make it easier on you.

In this case, you’re going to be looking for pre-registration features that automate your scheduling your first meetings. This way you can invite and confirm your attendance list with your first groups of people all from the same software package.

Another thing to look out for is tech support. Everyone on every level uses tech support because the software itself is fundamentally about learning.

It’s absolutely crucial that there are very clear and accessible instructions on how to join and use the software from the very beginning of a simple invitation email and it’s equally important to be sure that there is mid-level support for people who want to host these meetings and learn about the features that they can utilize and get better at.

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