When I worked for Major U.S. Corporation, remote meetings were as commonplace as the face-to-face variety. Of course, they tended to drag on, bore the hell out of everyone, and accomplish very little. If that sounds familiar, check out InfoQ's article on making people love remote meetings. The takeaway points:
- Distribute a numbered agenda before the meeting that clearly defines why each person's attendance is necessary and follow it during the proceedings. It's too easy for people to be distracted if they don't have a good reason to be there.
- Without body language and facial expressions to help you interrupt long-winded people, put a system in place for making sure everyone gets a chance to speak.
- Be clear about your desktop-sharing connection logistics before the meeting starts so you don't burn valuable time synchronizing everyone once the meeting has started.
- Don't share your entire desktop if you can at all avoid it and be conscious of color differences or lags that your participants might be experiencing as you go through your presentation.
- Be a good participant by being engaged in the conversation, making use of IM to alert the facilitator when you do need to focus your energies elsewhere or to have side conversations about the topic at hand.