5 Common-Sense Rules for Online Meetings

December 1, 2010

Running a meeting virtually presents some special challenges that you simply won’t encounter when you’re able to round up your staff from within the building. The more you can do to streamline the process ahead of time, the better your meeting will flow and the faster you can get through your agenda. These five rules will keep your meetings manageable.

  1. Double-check time zones. Heck, triple check them — there are all sorts of strange situations you can encounter. Different countries start daylight savings time on different dates, certain areas don’t participate in daylight savings time (and there are inconsistencies on the country, state and county levels), and the international dateline can be tricky. The best bet is to confirm the time of the meeting with each attendee.
  2. Don’t start with a brand new tool. If you haven’t used the software you’re planning to run your next meeting with, do a dry run with it before the day of the meeting. Every tool has its own quirks and the middle of a meeting isn’t the best time to figure them out. If you can run a test with a few of the people who will be attending your meeting, so much the better.
  3. Plan for a back channel. In every meeting, there are people who are trading knowing looks, passing notes or planning to track someone down right after the meeting. If you build in a back channel where your meeting attendees can pass information privately, you can make sure that any problems or questions can be handled in the moment.
  4. Offer a transcript or minutes. With many online meetings, there is a certain sense that taking notes isn’t quite as necessary, especially if there is a recording of the meeting available. But no-one ever sits through the recording of the meeting after the fact, so having written notes or  a summary is important to ensure that people act on any decision or plans made at the meeting.
  5. Have a follow-up plan in place. With a virtual meeting, you can’t exactly count on bumping into someone in the hallway the next day. Making concrete plans for follow-up is necessary to making sure that any plans or decisions actually get carried out without having to schedule yet another meeting.
(from gigaom)

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