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Updated Apr 10, 2024

7 Powerful Tips for Highly Productive Online Meetings

Preparation and organization can streamline online meetings and make them more effective.

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Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Business meetings are an integral part of healthy communication and strategizing for any organization. However, glitches and virtual limitations can make conducting effective online meetings challenging despite tech advancements.

Fortunately, there’s much you can do to streamline your online meetings and set them up for success and productive results. We’ll share seven tips to make your online meetings more effective and highlight popular online meeting platforms that can help you streamline conferences and virtual get-togethers. 

How to hold productive online meetings

Today, more businesses than ever are creating remote work plans and accommodating telecommuting and workplace flexibility. These arrangements make online meetings a necessity. Consider the following tips and best practices any business can implement to make virtual meetings and communication more effective and productive. 

1. Create a well-defined agenda for your online meetings.

Whether in-person or virtual, meetings can kill productivity when they meander and keep team members from crucial tasks. Online meetings are particularly vulnerable to confusion and wasted time. 

A clear agenda can prevent an unproductive online meeting and help keep everyone on topic. Here are some tips for creating an effective agenda: 

  • Itemize your agenda: Create a formal meeting agenda ahead of time, listing everything that must be discussed. Address topics by priority and allot specific time limits to each subject.
  • Specify participant roles: Your agenda should specify each participant’s role in the online meeting. Don’t let a participant be caught unaware that they’re expected to contribute or share crucial information.
  • Send the agenda to all participants: Send the agenda to all participants at least 24 hours in advance and confirm that everyone received it.
  • Send meeting reminders: To help everyone stay on track and attend the meeting, set an automated meeting reminder using your company’s calendar app, such as Outlook or Google Calendar.
TipBottom line
Many of the best business phone systems have online meeting functions to facilitate remote collaboration, including interactive whiteboard tools, breakout rooms and task management tools.

2. Appoint a moderator for your online meeting.

A meeting without a moderator can quickly go off track. When you appoint a moderator, an authority figure can control the proceedings, stick to the agenda, help everyone stay focused and keep things running smoothly. Participants need the moderator’s permission to contribute to the discussion, eliminating the problem of people speaking out of turn. 

While moderators are essential for all meeting types, they’re crucial for online meetings and video conference calls because internet connectivity and audio or video quality issues can lead to miscommunications. A moderator can set the record straight, clarify issues and recap the proceedings.

3. Prepare all tech systems before the online meeting.

Ask all participants to restart their computers at least 20 minutes before the meeting. Instruct everyone to ensure their cameras and microphones are working correctly. Ask them to test their equipment beforehand.

Additionally, ensure your meeting platform supports multiple participants and has been updated to the latest version. If participants’ meeting software downloads updates as your meeting begins, confusion, delays and panic can ensue.

4. Set precise start and end times for your online meeting. 

Time-capping your meetings can significantly increase business productivity and help you extract more value in less time. For example, you can set the meeting duration to 30 minutes and earmark 10 minutes for each agenda point. This way, the participants will stay focused and the meeting will not go off track. Your participants understand you respect their time and don’t want to impact their workday. If additional discussions are needed, you can schedule them for after the group meeting. 

5. Minimize distractions during your online meeting.

Distractions can cause miscommunication in online meetings. To avoid distractions, ensure all participants sit in private rooms with proper lighting. Additionally, consider asking participants to use headphones and a collar microphone instead of their computer’s speakers and mic to ensure clear communication and minimize ambient noise.

TipBottom line
Ask all participants to clean and organize their workspaces so attendees aren't distracted by knick-knacks, paperwork and other paraphernalia.

6. Conclude the online meeting with specific action items.

Many meetings end with vague promises and assurances from attendees. The moderators are responsible for extracting action items for various agenda points and getting acknowledgment from all participants.

The moderator should do the following to ensure the meeting’s purpose is met and that all action items are effectively tracked: 

  1. Create action items. 
  2. Assign each action item to an individual or group. 
  3. Agree on a deadline for each action item. 

7. Share meeting notes after the online meeting.

Once your online meeting concludes, send all participants a summary of the meeting notes. List the action item for each agenda point, along with the name of the person or group responsible for its delivery. Ask all participants to confirm receipt of the summary and ensure they understand everything discussed and agreed upon.

Did You Know?Did you know
Many cloud-based phone systems and meeting platforms can provide post-meeting notes to all attendees automatically, freeing them from taking notes during the meeting and boosting in-meeting engagement.

How to make an online meeting fun

Before planning an online meeting, brainstorm ways to keep remote workers engaged. Listening to a manager read from a cue card won’t reinvigorate your team. Here are some fun ways to liven up an online meeting:

  • Make introductions: Go around the virtual meeting room and ask everyone to introduce themselves. This exercise acts as an icebreaker and sets the tone for the meeting.
  • Introduce brainteasers: Start with a team-building exercise before getting down to business. Make it a contest to see which team can build the most creative object from Lego bricks or finish a puzzle first. A funny interactive quiz could also break the ice among online meeting attendees.
  • Play a guessing game: Another icebreaker is to play a game of I Spy. Ask each participant to describe a unique item in their remote work area and have team members guess the object.
  • Choose custom meeting backgrounds: It may sound insignificant, but who wants to look at everyone’s ceiling fan or odd art collection for every meeting? Choosing a meeting theme beforehand can give participants time to choose or make a custom background. You can even award a prize for the most creative background.
  • Keep it on task: Respecting everyone’s time is just as crucial as having fun. Prepare for the meeting beforehand so you can spend a minimal amount of time on necessary business updates and still allow for time for workers to socialize.
TipBottom line
Foster high-performing teams in a remote setting by encouraging collaboration, implementing team-building exercises and forging trust.
author image
Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
With nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Julie Thompson is a seasoned B2B professional dedicated to enhancing business performance through strategic sales, marketing and operational initiatives. Her extensive portfolio boasts achievements in crafting brand standards, devising innovative marketing strategies, driving successful email campaigns and orchestrating impactful media outreach. Thompson's proficiency extends to Salesforce administration, database management and lead generation, reflecting her versatile skill set and hands-on approach to business enhancement. Through easily digestible guides, she demystifies complex topics such as SaaS technology, finance trends, HR practices and effective marketing and branding strategies. Moreover, Thompson's commitment to fostering global entrepreneurship is evident through her contributions to Kiva, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses in underserved communities worldwide.
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