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5 Tips to Hosting Effective Online Meetings

Virtual communication has become a normal part of every job, with so many moving toward careers that involve working from home. Because of this, it's much harder to get everyone into one office to host a meeting, so the next best thing is to host online meetings. However, just like any in-person meeting, these can quickly become huge time-wasters if managed improperly. These tips will help you to learn how to host effective online meetings.
  1. Make sure everyone can see each other. This simple rule helps build human relationships and allows participants to put a face to the names. This is also a great way to read body language and it becomes much easier to read tones. There are many applications out there that make face-to-face online meetings possible. Google Hangouts, Skype and websites like AnyMeeting.com allow videoconferencing for several users.
  2. Create an agenda beforehand. This is a good rule to follow for any meeting. Send out a set agenda before the meeting to give participants time to prepare. The agenda should outline what will be discussed, what the expectations are, and the meeting's overall goal. It also helps to allocate time slots to each item on the agenda to ensure it doesn't veer off track.
  3. Test your technology. Make sure you know how to use the chosen technology and test it out before the meeting begins. Give your computer a restart and connect to the chosen meeting app or website early. To make sure things run smoothly, shut down any other applications that might be running. And always have a back-up plan, because technology can be unpredictable.
  4. Keep your workspace tidy. Since you'll be videoconferencing, it's important to remember that people can see whatever is behind you. Keep your space neat and tidy and get rid of anything that might serve as a distraction during the meeting.
  5. Follow up afterwards. Send out an email to the participants of the meeting with a summary of what was discussed, links to materials, goals and action points. This ensures nothing was missed and gives participants something to work toward.

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(Photo credit: © Kirill Kedrinski - Fotolia.com)

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