How to run a good online meeting

How to run a good online meeting

Remote meetings are becoming the norm currently. Here are some guidelines on how to run a good meeting where meeting ‘hygiene’ is even more critical. Much of the same advice applies to any meeting:

  1. Prepare and share a draft agenda. This optimally will include a list of who will attend and their role, position and company if required. Update it with feedback before the meeting. Include an AOB section so people can add topics at the end of the meeting (within reason)
  2. Have a designated chair for the meeting to control the flow and call time on elements.
  3. Wait for everyone to get online and then do a roll call. Consider a round of participants to introduce themselves briefly especially useful if some participants are not familiar with each other. This will also act as a sound check. Advise people at this point if they are not clear.
  4. The chair should agree who will take minutes. Hopefully there will be an obvious volunteer.
  5. The chair should ask everyone to go on mute when they are not talking and remind everyone to make sure their environment is as quiet as possible with as little disruption as possible in the background.
  6. Consider starting the meeting with:
    a) review of the minutes of last meeting. This is just to check everyone was happy with the meeting record and that it was an accurate and complete enough record of what was discussed and agreed.
    b) review of actions from the last meeting or open in the action log. The chair can ask for updates from the action owners and the meeting can decide if an action can now be closed.
  7. The chair should introduce and begin the discussion on each topic. Pitch the level of detail to be appropriate for the level of participants and the time available. Make sure everyone has their say. If someone is a bit quiet, the chair might ask if they have an opinion on the current topic.
  8. Make sure the meeting doesn’t meander off topic too much and maintain a time limit on each topic. Don’t try to address too much detail. Consider if a topic needs further discussion outside the meeting to progress it so it doesn’t dominate the meeting. Agree the forum for that next step. If it’s appropriate to make a decision on something arrive at that decision by whatever sensible means. Take a vote if necessary and appropriate. The decision should be noted and included in the minutes.
  9. Most meetings are kind of pointless without assigning actions to specific people. Keep a note of those where actions are agreed. Agree a due date on the call where possible.
  10. At the close of meeting go around each participant and ask them if they have anything to add before you close the call
  11. After the meeting publish minutes, including a list of who attended and who didn’t, decisions made, actions with assigned and due dates and any useful notes. This probably shouldn’t be a massive rambling verbatim record as no one will read it and it will be less useful. It should capture the key points.
  12. Transfer the actions to an action log. You can reuse the action log for the next meeting.

Some considerations:

  1. If the meeting is long try to order the meeting so that participants who are irrelevant to some Topics can be dismissed and leave early so that they can get on with their day.