Online Meetings can either be beneficial and helpful or something that causes frustration to a business. On the negative side, meetings can be a massive waste of time if no one knows why they’re there, if the online meeting is poorly led, and nothing worthwhile is accomplished. When meeting bombs, everybody involved loses. We lose precious time, money, momentum, synergy and perhaps most importantly—relationships and the Know Like Trust factor. An online meeting, whether it be a 1:1 session, mastermind or a webinar is more effective if you have a system in place.
During the current COVID-19 world pandemic the online meeting is a necessity.
One of the primary reasons to hold an online meeting is to build and develop relationships. Without the engaged help of others, we can accomplish very little in life. But a poorly run online meeting may diminish relationships instead of building them.
A well-run 1:1 session, mastermind or a webinar consists of three phases: before, during and after.
Before the Online Meeting
Have you ever been invited to a meeting but have no idea why? If so, you know how half-hearted you went into that meeting: low expectations, cynical, preoccupied, etc. For this reason, before we even announce a meeting, we must determine:
- What is the purpose of the meeting?
- Who should attend?
- What should be our expectations and take-aways from the meeting?
- What should be on the agenda?
- How will we hold the meeting? What Platform?
- How long will the online meeting last?
- What else do we need to prepare before the online meeting?
- What technology or visual aids will we need for the online meeting?
- How can we most effectively invite the attendees and communicate the information they’ll need?
We want to ensure that we need an online meeting, that we invite all the people required to the meeting, and that the attendees know precisely why they’re coming and what’s expected of them. We want people to go to the meeting, hoping to walk away with more than they came with.
During the Online Meeting
- We often forget that the primary purpose of any online meeting is to build relationships. For this reason, we must plan our meetings with clients in mind. We should seek to accommodate those we invite, create a safe environment, and ensure that everyone leaves with a clear understanding of the outcomes of the online meeting.
- The purpose of your meeting may drive specific elements of the meeting, but below are some common ones:
- Welcome and thanks. Even in an informal meeting,1:1 session, mastermind or a webinar, welcome your audience and thank them for being there. You may wish to express how valuable they are to the success of the meeting’s outcomes. Also, cover any logistics here such as do they mute, turning your camera on or off.
- Agenda and goals. Provide a plan for the meeting and the expected goals. Remind people why they are there and what you’re about to discuss. Take Murphy’s Third Law of Meetings to heart: “The time spent discussing any given topic is in proportion to the importance of that topic.”
- Meeting guidelines. This element is often missed by many. Instructions refer to a concise discussion of how we agree we will conduct ourselves in this meeting. The group generates these “ground rules,” which ensures buy-in. Typically, the ground rules are things like:
- Anybody can participate in the discussion
- Any idea is worthy of consideration
- No one hogs the conversation
- Stay on topic
- Respect each other and each other’s views
The nature of the meeting you hold will influence the meeting guidelines.
- Facilitate don’t dictate. The best online meetings are those we facilitate. That means that the leader doesn’t do all the talking. It’s often best to limit our verbal contributions to asking questions and summarising what the group has concluded. A good facilitator draws people out and ensures that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the conversation. If you already have all the answers, you don’t need an online meeting—just send a memo.
- Assign responsibilities. The facilitator can ask for volunteers or make suggestions as to who is most qualified to take on a particular task. Make sure that everyone knows: Who? What? How much? By when? And any other necessary details.
- Close the online meeting. Thank all the attendees for being there and summarise any decisions made. Establish a time and place for a follow-up meeting if applicable. Leave the online meeting on a high note and pay attention to relationships.
A well-run online meeting can be a tremendous tool for getting things done. But no one wants to listen to one person drone on and on. Nor do we want to waste our time in an online meeting that should never have taken place. But a well-planned, well-led online meeting can build teamwork, trust, accountability and enable us to accomplish far more than our clients could do on their own. There are many online platforms that you can use to hold your online meetings.