Today, the online meeting is a fact of business life. With travel restricted and offices closed, using tools like Zoom, Teams and Google Meet is just part of our day-to-day existence.
But don’t you find a lot of meetings could be a bit better? Don’t you find that many of them are too long, too close together or just too much?
To help you out, here are 10 Myna tips to having better online meetings:
Tip #1: Keep them short
In face-to-face meetings, it’s hard to stay anonymous, so you pretty much have to stay alert, as it would be considered rude if you fell asleep in the middle of the boss’ presentation. But in today’s new world, it is pretty easy for people to be sitting and doing their email while you are making what you think is a killer point. So if you want to keep people’s attention, don’t let the meeting run on any longer than it has to.
Tip #2: Have an agenda
If you are going to make tip #1 work, then this is absolutely essential. The longest and most boring meetings are the ones that have no structure. It is really important that before your meeting starts, everyone has a good idea of what is going to be discussed. And the more people that are on the call, the more important the structure is: It will help you keep to the time you have set. This may seem obvious, but next time you are an hour into a half-hour meeting, and you haven’t even started what you wanted to say, you’ll wish you insisted on it.
Tip#3: Use your camera
For those people who can, get them to use their camera. Most conferencing apps have some sort of “green screen” or blurring effect that allows you to remove the background, so only you can be seen, and not your messy kitchen! Being able to see the other participants in the meeting gives much more of a sense of “being there” and allows a more natural discussion than just audio only. It also allows you to pick up visual cues from other participants that otherwise you might miss (smiling, frowning or even yawning!)
Tip #4: Don’t be self-conscious
Because we are now using our cameras more because of the loss of day-to-day contact, we have all become a lot more aware of the human side of the people we speak to: We have all seen children racing around, piles of dirty washing, and a large selection of leisurewear. Don’t let it affect your involvement in your meeting. For people who are lucky enough to be working in a calm, low-stress environment, they are just thanking their lucky stars that you are the one struggling and not them. Just be yourself.
Tip #5: Choose an appropriate background
If you are using your camera, make sure you are careful about the background you use if your app supports it. People have got very creative with Zoom and other backgrounds, some of which can make a great talking point (we have found some great ones at https://coverr.co/tags/zoom-virtual-backgrounds), but remember that they need to be appropriate for the setting. Having puppets dancing behind your head is great for a Friday evening social call with colleagues, but not for the big pitch!
Tip #6: Use the right conferencing tool
Ok, this is a tough one. There are as many opinions about which conferencing tool to use as there are conferencing users, but clearly, some are easier to use than others. However, just because it is easy to use doesn’t mean it is right for a particular meeting. Some companies have become nervous about the security that Zoom offers, for example, so sending them a Zoom invite may not be the smartest move. They may prefer a more “corporate” provider like MS Teams or BlueJeans. On the other hand, you may want some of the features that you get with Zoom, such as easy cloud and local recording, which you don’t get with other providers. And remember, any meeting that has a dial-in participant is inherently insecure: You can’t have end-to-end encryption if you have to break into the audio stream and send it over a phone line.
Tip #7: Stop typing!
I bet you think you are typing really quietly in the background: You aren’t. Mics seem to pick up the sound of typing really, really well, and it is massively distracting to other people on your conference. Also, when you are typing, you aren’t listening, so stop “taking notes”, stop looking at your emails, and be present in your meeting…
Tip #8: Record your meeting
Yes, this is a bit divisive. Not everyone is comfortable yet with having their meeting recorded, but when you look at the benefits, it makes a lot of sense. First and foremost, it means you have a record of what was said. How often do you come off a call and think “Did they say Friday or Monday?”, or “Was that 15,000 or 50,000?”. You may have scribbled a few notes on a piece of paper that will help you along, but the longer ago the meeting was, the more chance you will forget what was said. If you are lucky enough to have a transcript of the meeting, you can even search for your meeting using keywords and phrases.
Tip #9: Offer a copy of the recording
One of the things that makes people much happier about being recorded is being offered a copy of the recording after the conference has finished. Knowledge might be power, but sharing is caring. If you are a Myna user, you can just forward the SmartTranscript that you get direct in your email, which has all the information the other parties need.
Tip #10: Don’t “Zoom Slice”
Have you noticed that you can go a whole day, and all you have is one meeting after the next, with each one running right up against the next one? Try to space them out a bit. You probably have a few actions that came out of the last meeting that you can quickly get out of the way. Maybe you need a cup of tea or coffee, or a quick comfort break to deal with the last cup of tea or coffee! It is tiring and unproductive to bash relentlessly through endless meetings. If you are the host, see if you can’t end each meeting 5 minutes early. At a time when we are all under relentless pressure, that is probably the nicest thing you can do for someone today!