Web Conferencing Tips

Why Web Meetings?

Business organizations are  more global, dynamic and dispersed than in the past. Project teams are not all located in the same facility rather business teams are comprised of individuals based in different locations.

Today’s professionals prefer messaging, exchanging emails or voicemail to talking in person.  They also prefer to meet virtually by phone or web conference where they can deal with the topic at hand from the convenience of their desktop PC, or while on the go via their laptop or web enabled mobile phone.

Prepare for Speed Meetings

The new generation of busy professionals have little patience or time for undisciplined meetings-70% want their meetings to be better organized and nearly 50% want them to be shorter.   In fact, they prefer speed meetings over the old face to face meetings.  Speed teaming through speed meetings is well on its way to becoming the standard, enabled by technology that lets web-based meetings offer all the same capabilities as in-person meetings, but far more efficiently.

Basic Guidelines For Designing Your Web Meetings

Web Meeting etiquette requires participants and the moderator to be interactive, thorough, focused and to the point in preparation, meeting flow and follow-up.

Before the Meeting

  1. Prepare Goals
    List and prioritize the top three goals that you want to accomplish with your audience.
  2. Major Points
    List the major points of information that you want to convey to your audience.
  3. Why the Meeting?
    Be really clear about who your audience is and about why is it important for them to be in the meeting.
  4. Set the Tone
    Be clear about the tone that you want to set for your presentation, for example, hopefulness, celebration, warning, teamwork, etc
  5. Don’t Repeat
    Don’t repeat what’s already been discussed in previous meetings! Aim to build on previous meetings.
  6. Design an Opener Design a brief opening (about 5-10% of your total time presentation time) that:    a. Presents your goals for your presentation      b. Clarifies the benefits of your presentation     c. explians the overall layout of your presentation
  7. Design The Body Prepare the body of your presentation (about 70-80% of your presentation time).
  8. Design a Close Design a brief closing (about 5-10% of your presentation time) that summarizes the key points from your presentation.
  9. Q&A Design time for questions and answers (about 10% of the time of your presentation).
  10. Post the Agenda Post an agenda 1-2 business days beforehand and ask for input from the participants. They will feel more involved and focused on the business in hand.
  11. Take a Test Drive A full-featured web conferencing product gives you more meeting support tools than offered by the average physical meeting room. Take a quick training session online – offered regularly and free of charge – to learn how to drive the most productive and enjoyable meeting.
  12. Master the Tools Excel at moderating Speed Meetings by using the tools of the trade.
  • PowerPoint Presentations – use of visuals and text will more than double audience attention and retention. But keep them brief. Include one slide for the agenda and one for each agenda item and use short, bulleted copy and charts and visuals where possible.
  • Whiteboard - Jot down key points so people can see their ideas appear before them and everyone can add to the content.
  • Polling - A virtual “show of hands” can speed consensus and shorten a meeting, and has the advantage of being anonymous. So, to speed the group to a productive outcome, poll often – it’s fast, easy and fun.
  • Look Who’s Talking – Use a conferencing service with integrated phone and web functions, which displays all attendees on screen and indicates who is talking over the phone line. A good moderator keeps tabs on who has spoken up and calls upon those who haven’t to keep all members engaged and contributing.
  • Side Chats – This function lets two or more attendees have a private chat in an “instant messaging” type fashion. The shorter, more interactive and visually supported you keep your main meeting, the more likely attendees will be to use this function only for quick, meeting-related side talk.

During the meeting

Let the Meeting Begin!

  1. Always start meetings on time. Latecomers will soon learn that integrated web meetings show when people ‘arrive’ as clearly as in a physical room.
  2. Stop all other workspace activities,  including email and instant messaging, just as you would in a face to face meeting. Ask your conferencing provider for a Do Not Disturb sign for your office door. This signals that online meetings are defined as serious working time, needing quiet and concentration.
  3. Look at your computer screen. Concentrate on the PowerPoint presentation, study the charts.
  4. Participate in the whiteboarding,  just as you would do in a physical meeting.
  5. Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk. Carefully absorb and weigh what others say so that every comment builds upon what has come before. This alone can cut meeting time in half.
  6. Speed-Time the Speaker Normal speaking time is about two words per second.  So, a focused, 50-word, five-sentence contribution should take just under 30 seconds.  Ask participants to adhere to this time limit.
  7. Tune In Without body language to rely on, online meetings rely on the voice to convey their thoughts and reactions with impact.

After the meeting

  1. Take Stock End the meeting on time, leaving five minutes to agree on the next steps, assignments and deadlines. End with a quick poll of participants, asking the following questions:
  2. Did any parts of the meeting become boring? Did everyone succeed at demonstrating proper Speed Teaming behavior (30-second speed-timing, building on others’ thoughts, giving full attention and good use of visuals, for example)?    Note the score and challenge the group members to each play their part in improving the next meeting. Ask people to send email suggestions for how to increase speed, productivity and enjoyment.
  3. Speed Meeting for Speed Teaming Use Speed Meetings to assist in the process of team building. The principles can be applied to streamlining collaboration and helping teams work smarter, more efficiently and achieving a better work/life balance.