Let’s be honest: meetings can be inefficient. They can use a lot of printed resources and take staff away from other projects for extended periods of time. Only one person can contribute at a time. Then, there’s time lost as minutes are written and distributed. It can be difficult to assign accountability and track follow up actions. Meetings are often run this way because ‘it’s the way it’s always been done’, and many business leaders simply don’t have the time to wonder if there’s something better out there. The truth is, the game has changed significantly with the introduction of online meeting spaces and applications. Meetings can become far more efficient, engaging and productive. It’s also great to know that many online meeting solutions are free to use, or very affordable. All you need is a working smart device with audio, microphone and camera, and a secure internet connection.
As with any new process, there will likely be a learning curve as ideas are implemented but overall, they can make a huge impact to the quality of your meeting time and the follow up process. If you’re not sure about where to start, get in touch with your IT support team, as they should be able to offer some recommendations. In the meantime, try using some of these tech tips to get more from your next business meeting.
Prepare for the format change
Before implementing a new method of holding meetings, it’s a good idea to review your content and the aims of the meeting. A digital environment is so different from an in-person meeting. Lectures, facilitated sessions, meetings and workshops all function very differently, and will need to be approached in an online-specific way. Prepare your team and your content so that you can make the most of the new format. It’s ok if there are challenges during the first couple of sessions – as the new environments become second nature, the quality of the meetings will improve.
Digital whiteboard brainstorming
Traditionally, brainstorming sessions were conducted around a whiteboard or sheet of paper. It may have been a great way to foster group collaboration in the past but these days many teams are working in diverse geographic locations. If the team members aren’t in the same room they can’t contribute to a whiteboard. Now, there are several apps that allow this to happen digitally. Screen-sharing and integrating finger touch technology on tablets means every attendee has the opportunity to contribute and watch as the board grows. Often, the output can be saved, and some apps may even transcribe the handwritten notes into searchable text.
Capturing group ideas
This is slightly different from a digital whiteboard situation. In this case, all participants can collaborate on a shared ‘wall’ throughout the meeting, adding notes, ideas and contributions. Everyone can be encouraged to contribute. Because it’s a more passive medium, introverted staff may feel more comfortable contributing. This is very useful tech for engaging remote staff, encouraging collaboration and team building. It creates a level playing field with each contribution made without a need to conform to a hierarchy. Finally, quick thinkers don’t have to wait in turn, or worse, forget what they were going to say – they jot it down and share immediately.
Absolute digital flexibility
As digital meeting spaces evolve, the way remote staff interact is changing. Video calls can be transferred across devices with no loss of connectivity, which makes meeting on the move a viable prospect. Chat boxes operate in tandem with video and voice channels. Files can be shared securely in real time. Sometimes, these digital environments can connect with other apps like calendars for scheduling, or cloud-based data servers like the Google suite. One example of a digital collaboration workspace is Slack. This online, cloud-based workspace archives every contribution, allows both private direct messaging and group communications, shares documents and can integrate third-party apps like Salesforce and ZenDesk.
Get more feedback
Gathering feedback about projects or training sessions can be tough. Handing out paper forms costs money and return rates aren’t always strong. If you incorporate brief online surveys into digital training sessions, you are likely to receive a better response rate. These polls can usually be conducted anonymously which may generate more candid feedback. Some online meeting software allows moderators or hosts to offer a ‘hands up’ feature, which can be a quick and unobtrusive way to gauge engagement and understanding during a session. Depending on the style of the meeting, questions can be asked and answered alongside the main content delivery. This can be managed by moderators or be open to contributions from other attendees.
Digital meeting etiquette
Online meeting spaces can be fantastic at bringing people together. There are a couple of things to remember as the environment is necessarily different from an in-person meeting. Use these tips to get the most out of your time online.
- Always assume your camera and microphone are on,
- Avoid eating during the meeting,
- Make eye contact with your participants,
- Don’t get distracted by instant messaging or checking email,
- Wear shirts without striped patterns and avoid loud jewellery to avoid visual distraction,
- Speak at a slightly slower pace and pause to allow for transmission delays,
- Don’t interrupt another speaker and
- Avoid engaging in side conversations and focus on the main speaker.
Digital meeting spaces really can save a lot of time and effort. The data that is generated is almost always saved automatically and accessible to participants in real time. This makes accountability and follow up much simpler. It can make a significant difference to the overall efficiency of your next business meeting.
About EC-MSP, your IT support partner
EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support with establishing digital meeting spaces, or any other IT support issues, contact us today to see how we can help.