Effective online meetings rule book

posted on 2020-05-29

We are all learning to do online meetings more and more. Here is a quick 5 minute overview of dos and don'ts.

To prepare:

  • Connect your headset, using PC speakers will cause echo, noise and other issues.
  • Make sure your camera angle is right, don't want people looking up your nose.
  • Make sure the lighting is good, don't want to be a ominous shadow.
  • Make sure that if you look look back at who you call (screen and webcam align).
  • Get a drink, always good to keep hydrated.

During the meeting, your etiquette should change according to the number of people in the call.

  • Generally:

    • Always call to action when you have a question: either target a person or tell people to use a "raise hand" tool or type a question in the text channel within N minutes. Make sure you don't ask general questions or feedback because the session will probably fall quiet. Questions like "is everybody here?" are impossible because you can't look at a specific person when asking that.
    • If the meeting takes a while, make sure everybody knows how to call out for a break or mention the break beforehand.
    • Join early, allowing for small-talk and welcome. Make sure that you do an online check at the beginning of the meeting time.
    • Start on time. People can be late, don't punish the people who are on time by waiting for the late people.
    • Keep video on, it allows people to see if you are engaged.
    • Close with next-steps or expectation summary to make sure everybody knows what has been accomplished with the meeting.
  • With less than 8 people:

    • Mute only if you have background noise, but un-mute as much as possible. This makes the call more lively and allows sighs, grunts and "aha" noises to be heard.
    • Use interactive whiteboards, request people to interact instead of having one person type/update information.
    • If you have a list of "work" to get through, rotate actions between people to keep everybody engaged in the meeting.
    • Introduce people or have people introduce themselves
  • With more than 8 people:

    • Mute as much as possible. If your tool supports it consider the "push to talk" feature.
    • Make sure you have visuals ready where needed.
    • Be ready to draw something if needed. If you are most comfortable with offline drawings, check to see how well it can be seen if you hold it up to the camera before you enter the meeting.