Online meetings have become a fundamental tool after the rise of telecommuting has led to the pandemic. After a time of strict confinement in which only essential workers could leave, even the most reluctant to telecommute have had to adapt.
However, having an online meeting is not as simple as turning on your computer and webcam and connecting to a program. You have to know what program to use, organize yourself, and streamline meetings to make them work.
You can work perfectly with online meetings, which also means cost savings for the company, but you have to know how to do them.
Otherwise, we will find connection and communication failures, workers doing other things instead of paying attention, or simply chaos.
An online meeting must be like a face-to-face meeting for it to work. There should be a good picture and sound quality, and the points of the day should be clear.
Only necessary people should go to it, and attendees should know why they are there. That is, what should they contribute to it.
In this new context in which teleworking has also become one of the most positive points in employee satisfaction surveys, having online meetings is key to retaining talented staff and better employer branding.
Below we review the main keys to make effective online meetings.
Tools for online meetings
Having the right tools is the first thing to check before an online meeting. To do this, all workers must have the same video conferencing program.
Today, there are both paid and free options, as well as free programs with paid utilities. If we are going to work regularly with online meetings, it is best to have paid software. In many cases, custom software is even made for companies.
In case the meetings are occasional, the free options are perfectly valid, in some cases even for large groups of people.
In addition to video conferencing tools, we will also mention a couple of task tools to make organization easier. In many cases, they will not be necessary. The CRM that we usually use will suffice.
However, if we don’t have a proper CRM, it can help us keep meetings from getting long and chaotic.
Also Read: Do You Know The Business Intelligence Tools?
Video conferencing tools
It is the most popular video conferencing tool after the pandemic. Zoom has quickly been at the forefront of use to maintain communication at both a private and work level. Its main strength is the audio and video quality, very good even with worse connections.
In addition, it allows unlimited calls between two computers. However, if we want to have more people, there is a maximum free time of 40 minutes. After those 40 minutes, the meeting closes, although a new one can be opened and resumed from where it left off.
Zoom also allows you to easily record the screen and even separate video and audio automatically, making it a good tool if you need to take minutes or transcribe meetings. With the paid version, there are no time limitations.
Google has two different tools for online meetings. The basic one is Google Hangouts, which allows meetings of up to 10 people, and the paid one is Hangouts Meet, which will enable meetings of up to 100 people at the basic rate. It is also the tool to which it derives you by default if you use Google Calendar to schedule the meeting.
One of the advantages of this application is the ease of sharing the screen and making presentations with a single click. On the other hand, to use the basic version, all users must have a Google account, although who in 2020 does not have a Google account?
Still, it’s a better option if the business has G Suite, Google’s business payment interface, enabled. In this case, not only can meetings of 100 people or more be held, but it will only be necessary for the organizer to have the application to enter it through a link.
As in Hangouts, Skype has a free version and a paid version for companies, Skype Business. To use Skype, you also need to register with an email.
One of its advantages is that it is the first of these tools to become popular, so more people have it, and no additional downloads will be necessary. Dependent on Microsoft, it is perfect if you use the Office 365 business suite.
This allows you to share documents easily, create work teams, etc.
Meeting Preparation Tools
Asana is one of the most useful tools for managing tasks, not just preparing for a meeting. Free of charge, it allows you to assign a time and date to meetings or projects and who is in order of each point.
This is a very simple way for everyone to remember what to do and prepare for the online meeting. It can be used in the app or on the web.
Trello stands out for its intuitive interface, in which the different points of the meeting can be organized by employing boards. In addition, as in the case of Asana, it allows assigning each end to a person and establishing if it is in preparation, if it has already been completed, etc.
Being also free, it is a widely used tool, especially in agile work environments. It can also be used in the app and on the web.
How to organize a successful online meeting?
It is great to have the right tools for online meetings, but without prior organization, it is useless. The most important thing is to define the functions. In a teleworking context, it should be clear who has the power to call meetings and for what reasons.
Likewise, the meeting must be closed at an appropriate time, especially if there are flexible hours as part of employee benefits and not everyone usually works at the same time. If they do not coincide, the ideal is that the organizer closes a consensus meeting, which tries to be as comfortable as possible for everyone.
The person in charge of the organization must establish the points of the day and the necessary assistants. With each end of the day, the person in charge of exposing it should be clarified, as well as the functions of each attendee. In this way, it is avoided that they arrive at the meeting unprepared and cannot contribute enough.
Likewise, it is recommended to establish a timetable for each point, including the explanatory statement and subsequent debates. In this way, meetings are prevented from dragging on to infinity on the first points, and there is no time to deal with the last ones. Our conclusions cannot be reached.
In this sense, it is always recommended that as few people as possible attend online meetings. It is better to have three meetings with two or three points than a single meeting with six or seven, which can seem endless.
Suppose the meeting is held, for example, with a department head. In that case, the department head may have another to explain the measures taken to his subordinates instead of meeting with the entire department.
Finally, it is also important to send meeting reminders to remember when it is, the points of the day, and what they are expected to contribute.
Streamline online meetings
Another aspect that usually worries is dynamization. In an online meeting, we can find two assumptions: either that people do not participate or that everything is chaos and it is impossible to listen to anyone.
Therefore, it is best to be a dynamic or moderator of the meeting, which should not necessarily be the organizer. The facilitator will be in charge of granting the speaking turns and opening the debate.
He will also be the one who checks that each point occupies the time indicated in advance and avoids falling into endless or useless debates. The facilitator of the meeting was also trained to mute the microphones of the attendees when necessary.
In this way, the order is maintained, and the online meeting is the closest thing to a face-to-face meeting. This means higher productivity, higher employee satisfaction, and improved talent retention rates.