Tips and tricks for successful online meetings
Translated by Anastasia Tsitsani
Based on the original text by Σπύρος Κατρανίδης
Undoubtedly, online meetings and tele-conferences, by two or more persons, can bring about discussions or decision-making much easier, without having to meet at the same place and work together in harmony. However, their excessive or wrong use can lead to functionality and team-coherence problems.
Some of the basic principles that should characterize online meetings, are summarized by the goals set by the participants. They need to have the right mentality and behavior, the meeting’s agenda should be related to the purpose of the meeting and everyone’s participation should be easily achieved. Moreover, online meetings need to be interactive and contribute to everyone’s smooth collaboration.
No need for excessive meetings
Repetitive meetings with limited or insignificant discussion topics might exhaust the rest of the team, since they could have used the time for something else, relevant to their work. So, the coordinator should check the agenda and decide when an online meeting is necessary or not. For minor issues, communication should be achieved in other ways, such as by mail.
Preparation and strategy
Before the online meeting, it is necessary to prepare a discussion of the issues in question. The agenda must be specific, otherwise the meeting will be a waste of time! You should prepare and present the topics that will be discussed as bullet points. In the end, they need to be summarized and a new, clear action plan should be done for the next meeting. After the meeting, each member should get a summary of the meeting, as well as their personal duties. Make sure to ask each member if they fully comprehend theirs.
Organize the topics
It is worth mentioning that the most difficult and crucial topics should be discussed at the start of the meeting. If it is something that might create tension, try to prepare it in a strategic and moderate way. On the other hand, brief and pleasant topics, as well as announcements, should all be mentioned at the end of the meeting. Good news could be thrown into the meeting as hints here and there, in order to create anticipation and surprise everyone positively.
People with key roles should always be present
Studies have shown that 1/3 of people with important roles, as far as decision-making is concerned, are absent during the meetings. But this absence is most likely to create problems that a second, upcoming meeting has to solve. So, in order to save time, it’d be better for the meeting to happen in the future, but with the presence of people with key roles.
It is important that each member has a responsibility during the meeting. One could be the coordinator, someone else could keep time or take notes that will be used later on. Thus, participants will be active during the meeting. If it is possible, do a videocall. The members pay more attention and multitasking is prevented.
Avoid large groups
Big groups create difficulties during decision-making, while many members don’t have an active participation in the discussions. Something that could be done for groups of more than 8 members is separating them into smaller groups. Afterwards, each sub-group can present to the other one the discussed topics, as well as their suggestions and conclusions regarding them, using different plans and possible scenarios. Zoom and Google Hangouts are some of the platforms that support these functions, also called “breakouts” or “breakout rooms”.
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