As we push through 2020 and into the future, it is now more important than ever to be up to speed on the latest technologies as they relate to conducting meetings online. Remote meetings can sound complicated if you do not know much about tech. Here is a quick rundown on the ways to get your online meeting processes running smoothly.
Choosing Your Tools
Your tools for online meetings are just like that of a tradesman. They can make your job easier and streamline your processes, or they can constrict your ability to succeed. Here at Firestarter, we use Zoom meetings to conduct one-on-one meetings as well as group meetings and Google drive for collaboration across the board. Here is a quick breakdown of a few of the other tools available for your remote meeting disposal.
Zoom is the industry standard in the online meeting space. There is a free version and you can meet with folks for up to 40 minutes on this version. If you are looking for full features, it may be worth the investment into the paid version. The Zoom platform has experienced massive growth over the past few years and there is reasoning behind this astronomical rise. Businesses, instructors, and personal users all see great benefit from the Zoom platform. With its ease of use and pre-built functionality, you can get your remote meeting scheduled and conducted in no time.
Slack continues to shove its name into the mix when it comes to online meetings and collaboration. With so many teams moving to the platform to chat with internal and external stakeholders, this platform may make the most sense for your remote efforts. You can share your screen and conduct video meetings with people inside and outside of your organization with Slack’s video conferencing tool. Setup may be a little more complicated if you do not already have slack integrated into your team’s processes.
Join.me has been around in the industry for quite some time and is pitched as a solid option for folks looking for a quick and easy-to-use video conferencing solution. Their free version has quite a few features, but if you are looking for further functionality, the paid version may be the best for you. The paid version offers the ability to meet with up to 10 participants and the packages increase in features and functionality from there. Be sure to take a hard look at the functionality you need as many people end up paying for features they don’t utilize.
GoToMeeting, very much like join.me and zoom, have been in the space for quite some time and have positioned themselves as an excellent alternative to the options listed above. They have great online reviews and support. The system is simple and straightforward and requires little to no technical knowledge from your end. GoToMeeting’s packages are a little easier on the pocket book, but do not contain the types of advanced features the more built out options may have. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.
We have included our top choices here, but there are many options and comparisons available for you to make an educated decision.
Scheduling & Conducting Your Meeting
Once you have your tools lined out, it is time to start organizing and conducting your meetings. Try to keep in mind the difference in time zones and schedules associated with meeting online. If you are on the west coast meeting with someone on the east coast, they are going to be in a completely different time of day once you begin your meeting. Factoring these differences can ensure you are not scheduling a meeting as they are trying to get out the door for the day.
You should also make sure you are fully prepared for your meeting with intentional time set aside to discuss with your clients and an agenda to keep things from drawing down into the weeds.
Intentional Agendas & Meeting Topics
As mentioned above, creating an agenda and establishing your meeting topics ahead of time can keep things moving forward through the meeting. It is important to let your clients know what you expect to discuss as well as any knowledge they need to bring to the table. Structuring your online meetings this way eliminates redundancies and increases efficiency. Both parties should have an agenda to work through as the meeting progresses. This also creates an easy note taking process for both of you to follow.
In one-to-one meetings it is easy to stay engaged. As you add more people to online meetings, engagement drops heavily. Continuing to include ALL of the participants in your meetings makes sure no one feels neglected and their ideas are heard. Implementing a path for the attendees to follow can help with this inclusion. Maybe you work down a list in alphabetical order to include all attendees. Something like this can increase engagement and generate ideas online more quickly.
Continuous improvement is necessary in the online meeting space. Auditing your conducted meetings from a holistic perspective for improvement ensures you are moving into the future with the best possible online meeting product that will fit your needs as well as your client’s.
Follow ups are one of the hardest tactics to follow when fully remote. Taking meticulous notes and creating reminders for yourself can keep these problems at top of mind and turn them into solutions. If you use a project management tool, make sure you go in and add any relevant notes from the meeting and create follow up tasks. This keeps the meeting at the top of your mind and executes any action items generated quickly and efficiently.
Here at Firestarter, we send recap emails to include action items and due dates, but you should find the system that works best for you and your efforts.
Online meetings can complicate your processes and frustrate even the most technologically savvy of users. With this guide, you should be able to tap into the online/virtual meeting space and conduct your business over the web in short order. Thanks for reading, and, as always, reach out if you have any questions.