How to Optimize Your Online Business Meetings

By Jared Atchison,
business.com writer
|
May 27, 2020
Image Credit: AndreyPopov / Getty Images

Online business meetings have grown since more businesses are working remotely. Learn how to conduct effective, efficient meetings.

Remote work was long projected to become the next big thing in the business world. Today, the current pandemic has resulted in its early and widespread adoption everywhere. Working from home has become the norm and for many businesses; most of their activities are now taking place online. We're also likely to see this massive change carry on into the future. 

And for good reason. Statistics on remote working show that

  • 85% of businesses state their productivity has increased after going remote.
  • 50% of remote workers report that it has reduced their sick days. Fifty-six percent of those working from home take fewer leaves of absence.
  • Remote workers are 57% more likely to be satisfied than the average American worker.

One of the major challenges that arise from this situation is managing gaps in communication. Real-time person-to-person communication has changed into a heavy reliance on emails, messaging platforms and online conferences.

 

Editor's note: Need a video conferencing solution for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

 

These tools can help you connect with people at your workplace and carry out business as usual. But switching to entirely online means of communication takes some work. It’s easy to get frustrated when people aren't on the same page. 

This is why we're going to explore how you can optimize your online meetings for success. Let's look at ways to communicate better and support our teams. 

Start with the right tools

You need to have a great video conferencing tool to carry out your online meetings. You also need other complementary tools to support your online meetings. Here's a look at the types of tools to help you run your online meeting successfully. 

  • Instant messaging: A communication platform like Slack enables you to send messages in a social media-type instant messaging format. Also, it comes with added features such as integrations with other remote work apps. You can use this to share links to your online meetings, to send reminders or discuss matters that are missed during the actual conference.

  • File storage and sharing: There needs to be a secure way for all members of the team to access, edit, and store documents, files, and other key information. Consider using tools like Dropbox or Google Drive which enable you to edit and save documents from any device. This means that your content and digital assets are protected on the cloud, and you don't have to rely on physical storage devices.

  • Conferencing tools: Due to the current pandemic, online tools for video conferencing have blossomed, and you have a number of options to choose from. 

Here are some important features your conferencing tool needs to have to support productive meetings:

  • Multidevice support as your team should be able to attend meetings from their phone, tablet device or desktop.

  • A great conferencing tool should allow you to host a large number of people.

  • It should offer you good security so the details of the meeting are protected.

  • Screen sharing is vital so you can easily train your team members and share information in real time.

  • Chat options for your team members to ask questions or to have side discussions during the meeting.

  • Remote drawing tools to help you highlight or draw on documents to convey important information.

  • Great customer support as you should be able to get help whenever you face problems with carrying out meetings.

Along with your conferencing tools, the other tools mentioned here matter because they support online conferences. You can use documents from Google Drive to create and track your meetings. and take the minutes of it. A cloud file storage platform can give you and your team an easy-to-access way to manage the written aspect of your meetings. 

Implement a structure

Meetings are often time-wasting activities and a big reason why is the lack of an agenda or clear accountability. You can change this by adding some structure to the meeting. When people know what will be said and in what order and by whom, they'll be more prepared and more effective. 

One practical and powerful way to structure your meeting is to use a Level 10 meeting format. IThis format provides clear instructions that you can follow and that will also enable you to discuss everything of importance. 

To get a clearer idea, here's what a Level 10 meeting structure looks like. 

Check-in (five minutes)

It’s always great to start a meeting by finding out how everyone is doing. Keep a few minutes for people in your team to share the good news in their lives. 

Scorecard (five minutes)

Here, you ask your employees to state if they're on track or off track when it comes to their goals. You need to have your marketing KPIs set up in advance so that people can quickly state how they're doing with regard to their tasks. 

Here is where your file storage and sharing platform helps. Instead of listing out in detail whether the team is meeting its KPIs, you can track these details on an Excel sheet scorecard that's visible to everyone. 

At the meeting, your team can simply focus on where they are regarding meeting the week's goals. 

Rock updates (five minutes)

"Rocks" are tasks and projects that form an individual's work for that specific quarter. Like the previous section with the scorecard, you can simply state whether the rock for the quarter is on track or off track.

If the rock is significant, you can take the time to understand what's wrong and how to handle it in the IDS section that follows below. 

Client/employee headlines (five minutes)

Here, you and the team can take a moment to highlight and celebrate key events that have happened or the good job a team member has done.

To-do list (five minutes)

Go over the to-do list for the team and whether it's being completed as needed. If there are any problems, address them in the next section. Team members can add the details of the to-do list on a Google Drive document so that it's visible to the team and enables accountability. 

Identify, discuss, solve (IDS) (60 minutes)

The IDS section is where you start any actual discussions needed. Prior to this, all the other sections simply helped your team catch up on what's been happening. 

Here, you focus on understanding and resolving problems in a constructive manner.  If you keep an online document open during the meeting, your team can write down the issues that they are facing. 

Use this time as an opportunity to answer their questions, help them with ideas, and clear doubts. This is also a golden opportunity for your team to help each other with problems and to come up with new ideas for the future. 

Wrap up (five minutes)

As a final step, go over the important points of the meeting and do a quick recap. You can end your meeting here. 

Conclusion

Due to the current global pandemic, online meetings will be the norm. It's important to ensure that time and resources are not being wasted and to communicate effectively during meetings. You need to enable high-quality communication so that the people who are remote working can continue to support your business's goals.

To that end, we've looked at a few ways you can optimize your meetings for success. Ultimately, your communication success in online meetings depends on the quality of your tools and your ability to structure meetings. 

Use the suggestions given here as a way to boost your online meetings, and you'll be sure to keep your team working seamlessly. 

Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.
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