With the onset of COVID-19, many businesses have been forced to adopt remote work practices and change the way they communicate altogether. Social distancing rules mean we can’t meet in large groups like we could in the pre-COVID era. What does this mean for those businesses, and how can online meetings improve business operations?
Online meetings are flexible, versatile, and accessible. We’ve seen an increase in company productivity and communication with online meetings, and that’s just the beginning. Meetings can also help save the cost of travel accommodations for large-scale seminars or company-wide events. Not convinced yet? Let’s look closer at how better online meetings are obtained and what they can do for you.
Hosting Better Meetings
A meeting is only as good as the tools used to host it, the organization of the host, and the amount of participation from the attendees. How do you host better online meetings? You start with your meeting tools, of course.
Conferencing services all over the country have experienced a huge surge in users since COVID began. Some of the largest conferencing services are struggling to keep up with demand, and not every conferencing service is created equal. Some have premium plans, some only offer limited features, and some don’t offer any support at all.
First, you need to find online meeting software that meets your specific needs. Think about what you need from your meeting software. Do you need screen sharing capabilities? HD video and audio? 24/7 Support? Call recording/cloud storage? Once you’ve narrowed down the features you can’t live without, you’ll have a better idea of which service to use.
Once you’ve acquired better meeting tools, you need to plan your meetings better. Using an agenda is nothing less than a necessity for every meeting. A meeting without an agenda is less organized and tends to derail quicker. You wouldn’t go on a long journey without a compass, right? You shouldn’t host meetings without an agenda for the same reason. Otherwise, you get lost in unknown territory discussing every detail of Greg’s divorce.
Even in online spaces, maintaining etiquette and professionalism is important. Professionalism sets you apart from your colleagues and earns you a respectable reputation as a professional and courteous worker. Conference calls often have their own set of etiquette rules, which are:
- Mute yourself unless you’re talking
- Don’t talk over someone else
- Limit background noise by finding a quiet meeting area
- Be on time
- Don’t start side conversations that don’t apply to the topic at hand
- Troubleshoot equipment and software beforehand
- Test your connection before you join
- Don’t invite people who weren’t invited to begin with
- Don’t give away meeting details to anyone
- Stay courteous and polite
- Don’t yell or use a raised voice
These rules will help you maintain professionalism during online meetings and prevent distractions.
Why Do Better Meetings Matter?
Why should you focus on hosting better meetings, anyway? What can a more streamlined and productive meeting do for your organization?
Productivity: A meeting that’s well-planned and executed will almost always be more productive. You should be setting goals for every meeting and planning a follow-up in the future to see if those goals are being met outside of the meeting as well. Shorter meetings are better, as participants spend less time focusing on the meeting content and more time on being productive.
Better Communication: The cornerstone of successful relationships is communication. This applies to personal and professional relationships, and organizations that communicate well are more organized, professional, and create a more conscious work culture.
Better Client Relationships: When you improve online meetings, your clients notice, too. They don’t want to sit in a long meeting any more than you do, so streamlining the meeting and making it more organized is something of a priority.
Following Social Distancing Rules: In the age of COVID-19, online meetings aren’t just more convenient, they’re also safer. COVID is spread via respiratory droplets (hence the mask rule) when you cough, talk, or sneeze. The best way to avoid catching the virus is to host online meetings instead of in-person meetings.
Many businesses don’t consider the fact that they’re hosting poor meetings, and this could be the cause of several issues that you might not have considered. Are employees burnt-out? Bored? Tired? Productivity down? Sales down? Fix your meetings, and you’ll likely find that many of these things improve over time.
The Bottom Line
Better online meetings make for improved communication, productivity, and organization. You’ll avoid meeting burnout, and help support a healthier, more communicative work culture. Improving your meetings means using the right tools, always using an agenda, and controlling the calls with host controls. Get familiar with the mute button!
Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.