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5 Steps To Hold An Online Meeting

5 Steps To Hold An Online Meeting

Hold a successful online meeting by scheduling, preparing an agenda, choosing a platform, sending invites, and facilitating discussions.

Choose the Right Online Meeting Platform

One of the first steps in holding an online meeting is the most important: selecting the appropriate platform. There is a multitude of platforms and each one has its own utility, so first and foremost you should consider your needs. Specifically, you should determine how many participants you will have on average, whether you will need tools such as screen sharing or break-out rooms and what you are able to use. A few popular platforms include:

  • Zoom: Zoom is an online meeting platform known for its user-friendliness and reliability. You can have up to 1000 people on one meeting and use the available tools for both small team meetings and multi-day conferences. Zoom has features such as households, virtual backgrounds and break-out rooms ensuring it is also a versatile option.

  • Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is available to users who are already using other Microsoft softwares, for example, Word, Excel and Outlook. It offers video meetings, a chat feature, file sharing and lets users edit documents at the same time. It is possible for up to 300 people to meet on Teams.

  • Google Meet: Google Meet is a simple video meeting feature available in the G-Suite, the workspace equipped with Google drive, Google Docs and other apps. Up to 250 people are able to participate in one meeting which is a rather high number for such software. Meetings on Google Meet usually run smoothly and participants can use the chat for further discussions, live captioning and screen sharing for understanding and presenting.

  • Cisco Webex: The platform is reliable, secure and compatible with other tools and also offers tools such as hand-raising, polls and Q&A. Moreover, up to 1000 people can attend a Webex meeting or an event with the help of the available features required for organizing webinars or trainings, for example, event registration.

So, it depends on your needs and what other software you are using which online meeting platform you should choose. Considering the options and the features available is particularly crucial because it will determine the success of your meetings and how smoothly you and other participants are able to communicate with each other.

Send meeting invitations and schedules

Prepare Meeting Invitations

The first step in organizing online meeting successfully is preparing a detailed invitation. It is necessary to include all information regarding the event and ensure it is understandable.

Craft Clear Invitations: When writing the invitation, it is critical to stay precise and explicit. Therefore, the invitation should include a clear explanation when the meeting will be, for how long, and what about. Utilize a great description for clear requirements for the meeting. For that reason, the participants finalize their information prior to the event. In case you know the exact time and length, specify those data.

Use Calendar

It is a great idea to use Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar for inviting to the meeting. This tool provides an opportunity to decide the meeting, fill out the attendees, and notify them in a couple of minutes. The tool also provides features for managing invitation status and sending reminders.

Include the Meeting Link

There is no need to attach a separate link to join the Zoom since it is possible to insert it directly into the invitation. The same for Teams: include the link for the meeting as well. Put the link right into the invitation so the participants can simply click it.

Send Reminders

Once you have invited all participants, it is crucial to ensure nobody accidentally misses your meeting. Remind all the members about the upcoming meeting a day before and one more time before the start.

For instance, plan a team meeting in Google Calendar. In the beginning, you need to create a new event and fill out the information about the meeting in the new window; provide the title, date, time, etc. Then, it is necessary to fill in the attendees and provide the brief description, including clear demands for the meeting. Utilize the space for the invitation for including the link for the meeting. Finally, send the invitations, so it includes the information and the whole day event automatically appears in the attendees’ Plans. At the end, remind all the participants that the meeting is starting.

Prepare meeting agenda and materials

Create Comprehensive Agenda

The first step is crafting a comprehensive meeting agenda to make sure all the topics of the discussion are outlined and the meeting flows productively. Additionally, an agenda provides a structure for the meeting, ensuring all topics are covered within the time constraints.

Outline Agenda Topics

I outline all topics I plan to cover during the meeting, allocating the set amount of time to each agenda item . Moreover, I prioritize topics based on their importance and relation to the purpose of the meeting.

Include Relevant Materials

I gather all materials to be used in the meeting, as well as any documentation needed for proper decision-making in the critical areas. Those might be presentation slides, reports, data analysis, and anything else relevant to the agenda topics.

Distribute Agenda in Advance

A meeting agenda is distributed among all participants before the meeting’s starting, 24 hours minimum, to ensure it reviewed by all parties. Additionally, this step allows adjusting the agenda if there is a need to add some points.

Encourage Input and Feedback

Participants are encouraged to provide input and feedback how the agenda could be squared. This final step allows meeting my teammates’ priorities and needs better.

For instance, if i am planning a project review meeting, the topics of the agenda may include the project’s milestones, updates on the budget, and deadlines. The set amount of time allocated to different agenda items may be as follows: the review of the milestones may take 10 minutes, and 15 minutes may be allocated to working on the budget. The materials i would gather would include project status reports, financials, and slides. The meeting agenda would be distributed to the meeting participants at least 24 hours in advance.

Test conferencing equipment and network connections

In order to ensure proper experience of an online meeting, it is important to test conferencing equipment and network connection beforehand. The following steps should be considered:

Check conferencing equipment:

  • Verify camera functionality: make sure that the camera is operating properly and that it is capturing everybody who is present in the meeting room. In order to avoid blind spots, testing from different angles is suggested.
  • Test microphone quality: position yourself in front of the microphone and check if the voice is clear, adjust settings if it seems to quiet or too loud. Test the microphone by making a call.
  • Test speaker functionality: Verify that the speakers are functioning properly, and that you can clearly hear the voice. Ensure that volume is adequate and adjust levels to avoid feedback.
  • Check ability to share the screen: ensure that it is possible to share your screen during a meeting and that the participants are able to see it.

Verify network connection:

  • Test your internet speed: visit one of the available websites with online tool to determine the speed of the internet connection. Make sure that the minimum speed is more than 5 Mbps.
  • Test network stability: test the stability of the network by using available online tools to check for packet loss and other issues. Measuring latency could also be used to determine potential problems.
  • Test VPN connection: check if your virtual private network is working properly. Since virtual networks could vary based on the actual location of an individual, it is important to make sure that networks from different locations are running well.
  • Check firewall settings: identify if you can communicate with the online meeting platform and adjust firewall settings in order to grant this ability if necessary.

Record important discussion points

Designate a note-taker

Choose an attendee. The first step in taking useful notes is to designate a note-taker. Choose one participant who will take thorough and detailed notes of the meeting. Ideally, such an individual should be attentive, organized, and good at capturing points.

Use collaborative tools. Secondly, to ease the process of note-taking, try using some collaborative online tool, such as Google Docs or Microsoft OneNote. That will allow several meeting participants to either view the result of one’s note-taking or contribute their information at the same time.

Capture key discussion points

Summarize discussions. One should start note-taking by summarizing all the discussions during the call. It is extremely important when discussing a rather complicated issue – especially a one that requires more than one meeting to be solved – to capture the decision made and include bullets of the design and implementation plan.

Provide context. Another important detail of this point is to provide the context for each particular discussion – it often might be hard for the meeting to remember the previous decisions made, and the purpose and detail of these had better be included.

Clarify action items

Assignment of responsibilities. The main thing to remember while making notes about action items is to say clearly who will take the decision taken and who will undertake the action to be discussed. The deadline of the action should also be included as well as the information on time and resources needed for that person to make a decision.

Follow-up questions. Finally, before proceeding with the agenda, the notetaker should ask the rest of the meeting whether everyone has something to add or any follow-up questions to ask on the discussion captured. That will stop the action items from being misunderstood by the staff.

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