Web Meetings: Tips to Stay on Track, on Topic and on Time
If you were hoping that online meetings or web meetings would fall by the wayside, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Global markets are in distress. Budgets are cut. Travel isn’t an option. More companies are turning to web-based communication to stay competitive and productive during these difficult times. If your company is conducting web meetings, you’re likely going to have to learn to adapt.
Unfortunately, a lot of business professionals I talk to find web meetings challenging and unproductive, which is the exact opposite of what business leaders hope to accomplish. Whether you’re using WebEx, Citrix, Live Meeting or Adobe
Connect, the functionality is similar. We have discovered that it’s not the platform that determines the success or failure of web meetings; it’s the communicator.
Hosting web meetings poses many challenges and requires you to communicate differently. If you thought you could take your face-to-face meetings and use the same format in an online format, it’s not going to work very well. But don’t fear, there are strategies that can help you make the most of your web meetings. Here are three tips you can implement today:
1. Stay on Track: It is true that online meetings save you time and travel dollars. However, you’ll need to allocate more time to preparing for your online meeting. In order to make your meetings effective, keep attendees engaged and accomplish your desired outcomes, you need to plan more aspects of the meeting than ever before. You need to plan for interaction. You need to have more slides and more animation in your presentation. You need to spend more time thinking about your attendees, what they need to accomplish, and how you can make the process easy for them. When you develop your agenda and presentation, be sure to think of your audience first. Never before has an audience-focused agenda been so important.
2. Stay on Topic: Within the first two minutes of your meeting be sure to state your audience’s goal and the value the information you are presenting brings to them. This will help everyone stay focused and leaves no doubt about what’s in it for them. Within those first two minutes you should also state the agenda including timeframes, who will be speaking, when they will be speaking, and on what topics. Create the agenda and stick to it! If you’re known for sticking to your agenda, your audience will log in to your meetings anticipating an informative and productive session.
3. Stay on Time: The days of two-hour meetings are over. It is simply too long to expect people to pay attention while sitting at a computer. Your web meetings should run no longer than 45 minutes. If necessary, schedule shorter meetings that occur more frequently. Believe me; it is more productive to have four 30-minute sessions than one two-hour session. People will be interrupted by colleagues, check e-mails, surf the web or just zone out after 45 minutes.