Everyone has had meetings in their lives where nothing was ever achieved. Unproductive meetings can waste the valuable time of employees, and also cause critical delays in finding solutions to key issues. But how can you ensure that your online meetings are productive? Let us discuss.
Is a meeting really necessary?
Ask yourself, could the content of the meeting be achieved over email, or by a quick message in the work group chat? A meeting will never be optimally productive if there was a more productive way to communicate in the first place.
Start off with an icebreaker
Attendees are less likely to contribute to the meeting if they are feeling awkward or aren’t familiar with the other participants. Allow everyone to chat amongst themselves a moment, perhaps even using an icebreaker to prompt introductions.
When we say ‘icebreaker’, we don’t necessarily mean those cringy ones we were subjected to at school – after all, it is likely your fellow businessperson does not need to know what your favourite colour is! Make sure that it is natural and human, adding an element of fun (not dread!).
Have clear objectives
What is the meeting for? Who needs to be present? What is the end goal you wish to achieve during the meeting? In determining your key objectives, you will be able to make sure that the meeting stays on track, keeping it as productive as possible.
Plan in advance and lead with purpose
Once you have set your objectives, make a plan of how the meeting will be set out. Lead the meeting with purpose, sticking to the key points that you have ascertained as the crucial topics. Plan this and distribute it in advance before the meeting so that all attendees can come in prepared, ensuring that it is productive from start to finish.
Insist on video, even if using a smartphone
Online meetings can suffer from the lack of nonverbal cues, especially if it’s just a group voice call. When everyone can see each other’s faces, and thus see facial expressions and body language, this can make meetings more productive.
Make sure that everyone joins the online meeting with video. If you are worried about how this might work with those who are joining via smartphone, look into a software that can assist. A Microsoft Teams phone system ensures seamless and productive communication, no matter what device it is used on.
Don’t let anyone dominate the discussion
Certain people dominating the discussion can happen in all meetings, whether it is in-person or virtual. When this happens, it can cause other attendees to switch off, as it might make them feel like there is no point in attempting to contribute.
Make sure that everyone has the opportunity to speak by implementing a few rules. These might be that attendees are not allowed to talk over one another, and if they want to speak they should press the ‘raise hand’ icon.
Keep it engaging
And finally, keep the content fast paced and engaging. If something is moving too slow or becomes boring, people might subconsciously switch off. To keep the meeting productive, make sure it is straight to the point and somewhat entertaining.