Many businesses now work with freelancers or virtual teams, facilitated by technology that allows for communication at a distance. If you’re planning an online conference or video meeting, however, you will need to set it up a bit differently than the traditional meeting. While technology bring with it an array of benefits, it can also present challenges within the office. Here are six tips to ensure your next online conference goes off without a hitch.
1. Set out ground rules in advance.
Although some aspects of an online meeting are different to what you are used to, in many ways the organizational aspects are the same. If you’re managing the meeting or conference, you should get in contact with all participants in advance. Let them know what to expect, including the time that the meeting starts, who is involved, and what the basic agenda is. Good communication is vital for successful online conferencing, where nuances can get lost in translation. It’s a good idea to invite participants to log in a few minutes early, for example. You can also set ground rules like banning mobile devices and background noise.
2. Stick to your agenda.
Once you’ve set an agenda, you should stick to it. Like any meeting, a video conference can quickly run away from you if you start to stray off course. You may be working with different colleagues from around the world, perhaps not with equal connections or expectations, so you must keep them on task by being as concise and straightforward as possible.
3. Choose your connection platform carefully.
Similarly, you’ll want your connection to stay strong during the conference or video call. Nothing is worse than a dropped call in the middle of a conference, so you should shop around to find the best platform for you. This may depend on the number of participants, as well as where in the world you’re connecting from. For example, Nokia Networks VoLTE may be ideal for voice-based conferences between two or three people, while major web conferencing platforms may be better for a boardroom experience. Just be sure you know how to use the technology ahead of time, whatever you choose.
4. Discourage distractions.
Have you ever found yourself doodling or daydreaming in a meeting? This problem is intensified in an online experience, where participants have all of the distractions of the internet close at hand. Try to avoid multitasking, and keep the conference brief to discourage these distractions.
5. Keep virtual team members engaged.
You can also prevent this type of member disengagement by asking questions of every attendee, or voicing your need for feedback. Rather than asking for a simple nod of affirmation, give each member of the team an allotted time to participate as part of your agenda. This will help foster a dialogue and prevent your colleagues from spending the conference checking their Facebook messages on the sly.
6. Keep time zones in mind.
Scheduling a virtual conference can be tricky right from the start when you are trying to choose the most amenable time to all participants. You’ll not only want to think about scheduling it during the workday for everyone if possible, but also about lunch breaks, rush hour, and timings of real-life meetings. It may not be possible to please everyone, but you can try your best.
Online meetings take a bit of extra work, but they allow us to collaborate with the best and the brightest so it can be well worth the trouble for any business.