The Art of the Conference Call: How to Run Effective Online Meetings


Gone are the days of having to gather around a conference room table in order to hold a meeting. Instead, we’ve evolved into a world where remote online meetings have become a part of daily business operations. Thanks to the internet, chat software, and conference call programs; business teams can hold meetings from anywhere, at any time, with anyone.

While you may know how to set up a conference call and share presentations with e-attendees, what’s even more important is ensuring that people are engaged and focused on the topic at hand. Successful collaboration starts with setting the right stage.

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of running effective online meetings.

Use the Right Tools for Online Meetings

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Thanks to the ever-growing list of software and mobile apps; online meetings have evolved into much more than just a log of people typing to each other. With conference calling software and online meeting apps, you can collaborate, connect, and get feedback from team members; no matter where they’re located.

When choosing the right online meeting tools, there are many features that you’ll want to look for. Top features include:

  • Chat capability.
  • File sharing.
  • Screen sharing.
  • Audio and video capability.
  • Whiteboarding.
  • Recording (if the meeting will be made available for those who were unable to attend).
With a meeting tool that offers all of these features and functionality, attendees will have access to everything they need in order to get the most out of online meetings.

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Prepare Your Space

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Online meetings may be less personal than traditional meetings. But it’s important to take the time to make your space as quiet and private as possible. The more distractions that you have to deal with during the meeting, the less focused you’ll be.

No matter if you’re attending the meeting from home or from an office space; find a quiet area where you’re least likely to experience a lot of noise or interruptions. To minimize background noise and audio feedback, be sure to use headphones.

Create (and Follow!) an Agenda

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The first step in effectively running an online meeting is to have an agenda. With an agenda in place, you can ensure that all participants are on the same page and know which topics will be discussed.

In creating an agenda, you want to highlight the following information:

  • Which topics will be discussed (in order).
  • Notate any decisions that need to be made.
  • Identify who will lead the discussion for each agenda topic.
  • Set aside time for questions at the end of the meeting.
Having an agenda makes online meetings much more beneficial. Because the participants are less likely to lose focus or to lose their place in the discussion. Attendees may not be able to see verbal cues. An agenda helps to keep everyone focused and aware of what’s being discussed.

If possible, share the agenda ahead of time so that participants can research the topics and brainstorm ideas and questions that they want to share. You may also want to ask for input from people attending the meeting.

Pace the Meeting

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Online meetings should go a little slower than in-person meetings. This is especially important if you have participants joining from various locations. Video-conferencing software usually has a two to three-second delay which means that participants aren’t likely to hear and see what’s being presented at the same exact time.

To account for these delays, you’ll want to wait a few seconds after asking a question or finishing a topic before responding or moving on. This way everyone has an ample amount of time to chime in and share their thoughts.

By properly pacing the meeting you’re less likely to run into instances where participants are talking over each other. This can cause confusion and waste of time. Remember, slow and steady makes for an effective online meeting!

Take Notes

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We all know that meetings typically lead to more meetings. When hosting an online meeting, be sure that there’s a dedicated person for note-taking. Even if the meeting is being recorded for later sharing, it helps to have someone involved who is writing down decisions, questions, and future topics that need to be discussed.

Once the meeting minutes are complete, they should be sent out to participants to tie up any loose ends and to start preparing for the next meeting. Wrapping up the meeting using meeting minutes is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the next online meeting will be just as fruitful.

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Conclusion

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Hosting a conference call is much more than dialing in and talking to attendees. Instead, you’ll want to follow these golden rules to ensure that all of the online meetings that you host as meaningful and effective.


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Article Published by Souvik Banerjee

Web Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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