Ten Tips for Online Meetings
Meeting online has become fundamental to team collaboration, training, project management, and business growth. While most of us are used to going on webcam and screen sharing, there is still a lot of room for improvement. It’s time to stop muddling through online meetings, get organized, and be more productive with these ten tips for powerfully productive online meetings.
Before Your Meeting
Since we’re no longer traveling or even walking to a meeting space, use that time to get organized. How you look and sound is more important than ever. Poor lighting, a messy background, or a poor audio connection can be instant credibility-busters. The following tips for online meetings will get you off on the right foot:
It’s true. Most laptops are equipped with built-in webcams. However, we recommend purchasing an external webcam that will provide a higher-quality picture. Here are a few budget-friendly recommendations. In addition, test your webcam and adjust your lighting as needed. The most frequent offence is having too much light from a window behind you. This causes you to appear very dark. Adding a light behind your monitor can help balance things out.
2. Eliminate background noise
We’ve all heard dogs barking, kids playing, and yard work in the background. While not as taboo as it used to be, it is still distracting. To avoid this, use a headset with a noise-canceling microphone. As an alternative or additional step, remember to check your virtual platform settings and enable noise-canceling functionality.
3. Backup Plans for Audio
Most virtual platforms allow you to connect via phone or computer audio. We recommend that you have the tools in place to make either work well. If you typically use computer audio and your internet connection becomes unstable, the way you sound as well as your ability to hear others will suffer. This means you should have a phone and headset so you can quickly reconnect to audio and conserve your bandwidth. The opposite is true as well. If you typically connect via the phone but the call is dropped, have your computer headset ready to go. In addition, familiarize yourself with your platform’s settings to efficiently toggle between audio options.
4. Plan for Interaction
For larger, more formal meetings or training events, you need to plan when and how you will interact with your attendees. Don’t be a talking head! Plan to visually engage your attendees (they should see something new) every 30-90 seconds. This doesn’t necessarily mean a new slide. It could be going on or off webcam, using drawing tools, switching documents, or annotating your shared content. You should physically engage your attendees (have them touch their computers) every 2-3 slides or every 3-5 minutes. This type of interaction includes typing in chat, taking a poll, whiteboarding, or contributing verbally.
5. Content: How to meet your timeframe
When developing content for your presentation, allocate two-thirds of your designated time for content, and one-third for interaction. This means if you have 30 minutes to present, you should only develop 20 minutes of content and leave 10 minutes for interaction with your attendees.
During Your Meeting
Now that you’ve prepared, it’s time to actually meet. What should you say first? How can you help you attendees stay focused? How do you avoid over-talk? We’ve got you covered!
Level-set your audience at the beginning of every communication using this four-step, two-minute kickoff. You can eliminate steps as needed depending on your audience:
- Goal Statement: Tell your audience what’s in it for them. Focus on your audience’s goals, not your own.
- Current Situation: Validate that you feel your audience’s pain and understand their problems and challenges.
- Agenda Topics: These are the topics you will discuss that are going to solve your audience’s problems.
- Guidelines for Focused Participation: If appropriate, outline how you will conduct discussion or request participation throughout your meeting.
7. Pause & Breathe
The number one skill you can implement during online communications is to pause and breathe. Take a moment at the end of a sentence or important point, when you advance slides, and especially when asking for feedback. Stop talking and take a breath. This will help you eliminate non-words (so, like, um, ah, uh). It also gives individuals time to process what you said.
8. Vocal Energy & Enthusiasm
Because your voice is so important, you want to avoid sounding monotone or bored. To do this, aim for a conversational, “authentic happy voice.” You can do this by using names to call out to people, telling short stories, punching keywords, and speaking beyond your computer screen. All of this will create engagement and enthusiasm for your content.
9. Annotation or Drawing Tools
When you’re presenting busy documents, it can be difficult for your audience to stay focused or find the piece of information you’re discussing. Eliminate the guesswork and help them focus by using annotation tools to guide your audiences’ eyes. Implementing these tools will also help you pause more! Most virtual platforms have tools built in. If your platform does not (like Microsoft Teams) no worries! PowerPoint has tools available.
10. Manage Open Discussion
Facilitating virtual conversations can be tough! It seems like either everyone talks over each other, or no one says a word. It’s up to you to keep things running smoothly. You can’t ask an open-ended question without explaining how to respond.
- State: “We’re going to have a conversation about…” “Here’s how we’re going to manage it…”
- “I’ll state the question…”
- Two options: Ask someone to raise their hand to speak or select someone by name to speak.
- While discussing the topic, direct others to contribute in chat.
- To verbally comment, raise your hand.
Reading this information and practicing on your own is a great first step. However, nothing compares to personalized coaching and seeing yourself on video. To explore how Power Presentations can help improve your online communication skills, show more conviction for your content, demonstrate enthusiasm, and ultimately improve business results, contact us:
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