We often find ourselves sticking to what we know in most things we do. Whether that be within our business or personal life. Sticking to our own ways is easy: we are comfortable with the features and know what to expect. However, there are always more options and alternatives outside our comfort zone and outside our own way of thinking. Whether it be using a different tool or a different feature, it can be extremely effective to be expanding and altering the way in which we work. Here we have listed various different features you could be using for online collaboration, and we hope the following thought will occur to you after implementing them: “Why haven’t we done it like this before?”.
Before the meeting
1. Right guest
Be clear who needs to take part in the meeting and for whom it is optional. No one likes to waste time in a meeting that doesn’t concern them.
2. Wrong guest
When you invite people to join the meeting, be sure there is a reason for them to attend. Either they are making a decision, contributing their expertise or perhaps the outcome impacts their work.
3. Time of day
If you want the attendees to pay attention and not to doze off, we don’t suggest holding a meeting right after lunch or late on a Friday afternoon. Focus on different circadian rhythms during which people are most alert and energetic, such as around noon or 6 PM (if you don’t need to consider attendees from different time zones).
4. Day of week
If you hold a meeting on a Monday morning, it is quite likely people will join the meeting unprepared. Schedule the meeting on a day which allows people to prepare for it the day before.
5. Unusual timing
How often has someone been late for or skipped the usual 9:00 meeting? Try starting at an unusual time such as 10:23 for people to focus more on the timing.
6. Length of meeting
Schedule shorter meetings (30 min max). This way people won’t lose focus and you are able to get on with every-day business without wasting time.
7. Regular occurrence
Allow information flow and problem solving by scheduling meetings on a regular basis. However, if something can be covered through a simple email, do not waste people’s time by holding a meeting.
8. Up-to-date documents
Prepare the documents well in advance. Take another look at them an hour before the meeting to assure everything relevant is included.
9. Correct documents
Be sure you are using the right slides for the right meeting. Prevent an uncomfortable situation of searching through different folders and files while everyone is waiting. Create copies of each document in a separate folder in advance for each meeting.
10. Send documents beforehand
This is not always possible, especially if you need more time to prepare a spreadsheet for the meeting. Luckily with web-based meetings sharing documents during the meeting is simple and instant.
11. Clear agenda
What are the key issues which need to be discussed? Don’t be too vague: allow others to have efficient preparation before the meeting. You can use this template to design an effective meeting agenda
12. Expected outcome
Be clear on what is expected from the meeting, as well as what is expected from each participant.
13. System preparation
Make sure laptops are plugged in and headsets work at least 15-20 minutes before the actual meeting. No one likes to wait for someone to restart their computer after a meeting has started.
During the meeting
14. Video or audio?
Major part of communication happens through the use of body language. Consider adding video especially if the meeting is expected to take more time.
15. Tailored message
Catch people’s attention by starting each meeting in a different way with the use of tailored words suited for each specific situation and expected outcomes.
16. Clarify roles
Who is the facilitator? Who is the timekeeper? Assign relevant roles and make sure everyone is aware of what is expected from them.
17. Take the lead
Conversations get easily drifted if no one takes the lead and directs the discussion back on track.
Allow people to participate and pitch in ideas. However, you should step in if someone keeps dominating the conversation. If there is lack of participation, try these tips to boost engagement.
19. Key points
Stick to the agenda. If you feel like you are running out of time, you can always schedule another meeting to discuss other topics at another time.
20. Share responsibility where necessary
As a leader you can ask the facilitator to lead some parts of the meeting, allowing you to participate more in certain conversations.
21. Team collaboration
Brainstorming is the most efficient way to create new ideas. It allows participants to build on each others solutions and create conversation.
22. One to many
Have you tried sharing your screen during a meeting? If not, now is definitely the time! It is a simple way to let everyone know precisely what you are talking about.
23. Correct tool for the job
To allow the best quality sound flow, use headset rather than laptop microphone. Consider the online conference solution you are using and make sure it does what it intends to do.
After the meeting
24. Review project goals
What were the objectives of the project? Were the goals met? If not, how could we improve our performance next time?
25. Track tasks
What were the tasks assigned before/during the meeting? Did the meeting facilitate completion of the tasks?
26. Impact of goals being achieved
Did we set the right goals? Was the outcome meaningful or were the results insignificant?
Missed something? Forgot to take notes? You can always go back to the recorded online meeting and replay it at another time (just login to you Drum account). This is also useful in terms of reviewing the achieved goals.
28. Review the features and learn for the next meeting
Which topics on the checklist worked best? Was there a section which you feel wasted your time? Review each key point before the next meeting and rearrange the list to fit your company’s needs.
We have created a checklist of top things to help you collaborate more efficiently online. Unfortunately we couldn’t incorporate every possible element since there are so many features online meetings can comprise of. Nonetheless, the structure here provides you with the a basis to add your own spin to online collaboration. Why not try and use these tips in various orders to see whether certain sequences work best for you. Did we miss something? Let us know what you would add!