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How to Conduct The Perfect Virtual Meeting

by SUMMIT on October 21st, 2014

Conducting efficient and well-organized meetings can be one of the biggest challenges companies and small business owners face today. While meetings can seem like a colossal waste of time for some, the real issue is being unprepared or not ready to meet in the first place. If your company is cost conscious, travel related expenses can be a huge financial drain as well.

Thanks to ever evolving technology, conducting virtual meetings can be both an effective and a cost saving solution. Just like with any in person meeting, virtual meetings can be incredibly effective as a method of communication and collaboration, they just need to be planned and managed with the same attention to detail that in person meetings are. In reality, successful meetings don’t happen by accident, they are a product of working smart and focusing on efficiencies. Here are some steps you can implement to help you run a first class virtual meeting. 

Plan your meeting based on your desired outcome 

Before you even think about sending meeting invitations or scheduling a conference room, take some time out to plan the meeting based on the desired outcome you are trying to achieve. Will you be meeting to educate or train new employees? Is it to plan and strategize with agency partners or simply to brainstorm with colleagues from different offices in your organization? By taking the time and effort to plan carefully in advance, you will be able to better anticipate important key components such as the type of meeting space you need to book and the people who should be attending your meeting.

Prepare an agenda

It may be a cliché, but in business, it really is true that time is gold! One of the best ways to ensure you stay on track is by preparing an agenda and sending it in advance to everyone who will be attending your virtual meeting. This will allow meeting attendees to review what will be discussed and to ask any questions they may have or offer additional suggestions before the meeting takes place. This will help you keep focused on the topic at hand.

Use audiovisual tools 

Virtual meetings are far more effective when you use mix in audiovisual support. There are many options, both paid and free solutions, that are available that are flexible and easy to use.

This is particularly helpful when you want to conduct a collaborative type of meeting. It is easier to illustrate your point when you use video conferencing as opposed to just an audio-based conference call. A great video conference is the next best thing to being there in-person. You save on travel expenses and can still get everyone’s input. Audio is key too. Make sure you have the appropriate audio equipment so that the participants can hear and understand you clearly. If they can’t understand what you’re saying, then the meeting is just a big waste of time.

Stay on topic and time previously agreed on

It is important that you start and end your meeting on time or, better yet, early if possible. The people attending the meeting will thank you for it and you’ll get a reputation for being a great meeting host in no time.

Speak clearly and encourage people attending the virtual meeting to offer their input and contribute to the discussion. Stay focused and true to your agenda.

Wrap up the meeting

At the conclusion of your meeting, make sure you offer a quick summary of what was discussed. Agree on what the next steps will be and assign people to be responsible to make sure action items are accomplished by the agreed upon deadlines. Avoid the urge to have off topic discussions before, during, and after the meeting has concluded.

If in the end, you discover new questions that need to be addressed, you can then suggest to schedule a follow up meeting. In addition, a great follow-up step is to make the meeting presentation materials available to those interested. With online sharing tools such as Dropbox or other cloud based solutions, it’s easy to distribute important information to colleagues and make is easy to review and update.

Meetings don’t have to be a waste of time and they shouldn’t be complicated. Meeting virtually can be an effective alternative to get a group of colleagues together while still staying on task as well as saving significant time, money and frustration.

If you are looking for a solution for your virtual meeting needs, we’d love to help you find the solution that’s perfect for you — contact us at Summit Integration www.summit-sys.com.

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