Online meetings, also known as remote meetings or virtual meetings, connect teams and individuals across distance. They are a major tool for businesses to communicate effectively.
The key to a successful online meeting is preparation. Ensure participants are on-task by not inviting people who don’t need to be there. Keep the focus on the agenda, and politely interrupt people if they veer off-topic.
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1. They’re more convenient.
Online meetings are a convenient way to cut down on travel expenses. Companies are increasingly using web conferences and video meetings to save on airfare, train fare and rental cars.
Online meeting software also allows attendees to use their own devices. This cuts down on the need to provide equipment, and the cost of buying new laptops or tablet computers for each participant.
However, virtual meetings can sometimes be hindered by technical issues, such as internet connectivity, audio or video quality, and distracting chat conversations. A moderator can help to keep the meeting focused and on track.
Online meetings can also be more productive when they are shorter. This helps to make sure that everyone’s time is valued and that the meeting gets results.
2. They’re more flexible.
Online meetings allow employees to work from anywhere in the world, reducing the need for travel and allowing more people to join the workforce. This is a big boost for diversity and inclusion in businesses and also saves money on travel expenses, accommodation and food for meeting attendees.
Using online tools like screen sharing and whiteboards allow participants to engage in discussion and collaborate just as they would in an in-person meeting. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the lack of human presence can create a feeling of disconnection among attendees. To combat this, consider using icebreakers and team-building exercises to help your attendees feel more connected during the meeting. For example, you can ask attendees to introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting or make them take turns to speak during a brainstorming session.
3. They’re more affordable.
Online meetings are much cheaper to hold than physical meetings. They eliminate the cost of renting conference rooms and organising refreshments. Plus, participants can join online from the comfort of their homes which means there’s no need to pay for travel expenses.
The downside of online meetings is that the technology could fail. Internet connections can cut out, puppies chew through cables and headsets for virtual calls can stop working.
However, these issues can be easily overcome with a bit of preparation and the right tools for business meetings. A good choice of virtual meeting software allows attendees to edit documents collaboratively, share screens and take notes during the call. It also creates dedicated project channels to store work conversations and makes it easy to filter and search important information.
4. They’re more accessible.
Online meetings can be more productive, but they also require careful planning. It is essential that you follow the same guidelines as you would for a face-to-face meeting to ensure that your online meeting is effective.
For example, avoiding multitasking during the meeting is important to increase productivity. If attendees are checking email or scrolling Twitter, they can’t be fully engaged in the discussion or making decisions.
It’s also crucial to keep in mind that online meetings must be accessible for all employees, including those with disabilities. This can include closed captioning, transcripts, keyboard shortcuts and other features that make online meetings more user-friendly for people with visual, hearing, mobility and cognitive disabilities. Providing these accommodations makes virtual meetings more inclusive and can help everyone feel included in your company’s culture.
5. They’re more productive.
Online meetings are more productive than in-person meetings, thanks to digital meeting software. Participants can connect to the meeting using their computers or mobile devices, and they can use collaboration tools like a virtual whiteboard to share ideas.
Having a moderator helps keep online meetings on track and prevents people from talking over each other. It also encourages more democratic participation by ensuring that all attendees are called on to speak at some point.
Try to avoid presentations that are too detailed and lengthy. Long meetings are a big reason why remote workers struggle with burnout. They’re often forced to sacrifice good-quality sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet just to make it into the office each day. Meeting online reduces this pressure by allowing participants to work from home, their favorite coffee shop, or even on the beach.