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5 Ideas For A More Succesful Group Meeting Online
The structure of the group meeting online is in many ways no different from the regular boardroom in-person meeting. It is important in both types of meetings that the schedule be planned ahead of time, and that the guests are the right people to make the decisions you will be having them make. It is also a good idea in online meetings to have a plan of action or some kind of accountability at the end of the meeting.
Despite the similarities, there are some preparations that are unique to online meetings. Here are a few tips that can help you have a successful meeting online.
1. Enlist help. You can't possibly know what's happening with others at all times. Each computer is so different in make, model, operating systems and personal settings. You may sound fine to yourself but others may not find it that way. Because of that, it's a good idea to have someone help you do sound checks at the beginning and throughout the meeting. This way, whenever they hear a drop or lag, they can quickly alert you and you can either slow down or make adjustments accordingly.
2. Get someone you know to have your presentation materials and questions ready for you. Many people feel secure in the fact that they are using their computer to host a meeting and don't feel the need to prepare ahead of time. They think that just because their computer is right there that they don't need to have everything ready like they would have no choice but to do in the offline world.
That may be so, but even with powerful searches, you still need to filter through the inaccurate matches. And sometimes, we aren't quite as organized in our computer filing as we like to think. So what happens is, you can end up wasting time looking for material and information you should already have with you.
An assistant will help keep you organized and ensure any presentation goes smoothly with as little interruption as possible. They can also help you gather questions, locate information and do all the nitty gritty small stuff. These are things that can quickly confuse you while you're trying to facilitate the meeting. So don't let them.
3. Next, send reminders. In the offline world, reminders are important but in the online world, it's crucial. Simply because it's so much easier for people to ignore an email than someone popping into their office now and then. Of course, you do not want to send so many emails to the point you're spamming people. Generally, it's good to send one around 24 hours before and one about 1-2 hours before.
4. For many people it is very hard to resist the strong draw a computer connected to the internet has over them. People can quickly get sucked up into surfing, checking emails and multi-tasking and not pay attention to your meeting. When a presentation is largely audio, people's eyes tend to wander in search of something to look at. Help keep their focus. Use visuals and white boards where applicable to draw their attention back onto your materials and the discussion at hand.
5. This final point may seem obvious but be sure that those who are broadcasting video have a high-speed internet connection. You may be surprised at how many people actually try to broadcast video to a large group on a dial up connection. This is likely to slow down everyone's speed and it can also mean that you'll be spending time with those on dial-up helping them to get rid of the video lag. Politely ask your dial-up users to have their video cameras off and tell them that the video coming into their computer may also be on a delay.
In all cases, it's a good idea to have someone on stand by to hand off technical support issues to so you're not trying to help everyone during the meeting.
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