Who called this Teams meeting? How to facilitate a successful online meeting

By Deborah Palmer, Director, Communications and Engagement

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen more businesses than ever before moving online – including meetings. For many, online meetings mean engaging and hosting using new technologies which can present additional challenges.

Here is some advice from the ‘Elton Consulting Brains Trust’ on how to facilitate a successful online meeting:

We recently shared with you some advice on how to facilitate successful meetings. The essentials remain true for online meetings – it’s important to thoroughly prepare, and focus on purpose, people and process. However, there are certainly some aspects pertaining to preparation and how you run an online meeting that are different to the face-to-face scenario.

To increase success, here are some points a facilitator can keep in mind before and during an online meeting:

Before

  • Work out what platform is best to host your online meeting. Issues to consider include the number of people you will have attending and any security/privacy concerns.
  • Consider if there are any simple digital tools you can use to help achieve your purpose and/or synthesise information and questions easily (e.g. a polling option or online chat; or an external tool like Mural).
  • Make sure the technology works (and that you and other users know how to use it – i.e. trial it prior to the meeting and send instructions to attendees before the meeting, if need be).
  • Think about what could go wrong from a technological standpoint. Develop a plan of action should things derail (e.g. make sure you’ve shared back-up dial-in options with the group beforehand; provide someone else with a copy of the presentation slides; etc). A note on technology: be thoroughly prepared, but also accept that glitches happen and you can’t control everything!
  • Avoid Bluetooth headphones (Eltonites always use wired headphones because they can handle more data and, therefore, offer better sound quality).
  • If you are preparing for a presentation, remember that just because you’re going to be on screen, doesn’t mean you have to be as polished as Leigh Sales – just be comfortable and familiar with your content, and they’ll love you!

During

  • Have your screen on and, if possible, show your background as it is.
  • Be the first to arrive and the last to leave.
  • Clearly set out any instructions or ground rules at the beginning of the meeting, and reiterate them throughout the session, as needed.
  • Keep an eye on the online chat option and remember to check in with the group regularly for any feedback or questions.
  • Turn off notifications on other devices and exit your emails – stay connected and fully present with your meeting attendees.
online facilitation

In short: be yourself, be prepared, be focused, and you’ll be fine!

Read How to facilitate a successful meeting for more tips.