Ten top tips for effective online meetings

My first post in this series about homeworking during the COVID-19 outbreak covered the legal and contractual aspects that companies need to address. Today’s post offers tips on holding virtual meetings with your colleagues.

1. Embrace video calling

Being present and seeing each other is an important part of keeping connected. Don’t hide away or do other work during the meeting.

2. Use headsets or earphones

This will give better sound quality. Speak directly into the mic, and remember to mute it when not speaking to limit background noise.

3. Speak clearly and steadily

This will help ensure that everyone can understand you. And try to modulate your voice, to keep people interested and engaged.

4. Establish etiquette guidelines

Agree a system to give everyone a voice. Arrange “hands up” signals to agree who speaks next, and use chat functions to allow everyone to contribute.

5. Repeat the question

The chair or presenter should repeat questions they ask or before answering them, to ensure that all participants are aware of the original question. Repeating the question in writing within a chat box could provide additional clarity.

6. Use names and give context

When responding to chat comments, repeat the relevant remarks and make clear whom you’re responding to. Don’t just say “Yes Jane, that’s right”, because others may not have seen Jane’s comment and it won’t make sense to them.

7. Keep slides simple

Keep to a single thought per slide to help participants understand and focus on what’s being discussed. It’s better to have more slides with fewer things on them.

8. Keep slides visual

Your participants may be joining from a mobile device, and wordy slides will be tough to read. Anchor your presentation on relevant, image-based slides.

9. Engage participants regularly

It’s hard to simply listen online for a long time. Invite participants to give comments or ask questions, and use tools like chat or polls.

10. Be explicit about actions and summarise

Spell out clearly any actions that need to be taken and by whom. Summarise meeting takeaways and circulate notes promptly.

If you have any questions about setting up or conducting online meetings, email me or call me on 020 7099 2621.

My next post in this series will offer tips for managing remote teams.