5 Common Sense Rules for Effective Online Meetings

Last Updated Dec 5, 2010 11:49 PM EST

Even if you're a master meeting leader (if that's actually a thing), you can get caught off-guard the first time you need to lead a meeting that happens virtually. People on the phone or in a virtual conference tool have different needs and expectations that people all grouped around the same conference table.

WebWorkerDaily recently rounded up 5 common sense rules for conducting online meetings, and these address many of the gotchas that can derail you. Here's what you need to know:

  • Double check your time zones. Time zones are wild and wacky -- various countries and even cities within the US implement and respect them differently. Be sure everyone is on the same page, time-wise.
  • Don't "test" new conferencing tools in the live environment. If you're using a new program, run a test with some folks in your office. Don't try it out for the first time in a live call -- and make sure you know how all the various switches and levers work, such as how to give control to remote participants and how to ensure everyone can see what's being shared.
  • Build in a back channel. This way, folks inclined to follow up after the meeting or trade information privately can interact with you in the moment.
  • Publish meeting minutes. You should do this for all meetings, but it's especially critical for meetings that happen in virtual space. This way you can drive next steps and ensure attendees take the necessary action.
  • Have next steps ready to go. Likewise, make concrete plans to ensure attendees follow up and work actually gets done. Remember, you can't huddle in the hallway after the meeting if attendees are spread across the country or around the world.