By Marriott International            

Virtual meetings are becoming more and more common these days, and for good reason. They are a cost-friendly option when team members are too far apart to meet in person. And with online meeting software and apps available now, it has never been easier to conduct a virtual meeting. But to get the best out of a virtual meeting, it is critical that you prepare well.

Successful meeting planners will not only do their homework before the meeting begins, but they’ll also know how to keep a virtual meeting on track to maximize efficiency. Try these nine tips to make sure your next virtual meeting is a success.

  1. Send Reminders: A big benefit of virtual meetings is how much travel time is saved. But you won’t save much if you need to wait for stragglers to sign in. Give attendees plenty of notice by scheduling and announcing your meeting with enough time to allow everyone to attend. Also, a friendly reminder about an hour beforehand can help ensure that you start on schedule.
  2. 10 is company, 11’s a crowd: Managing a virtual meeting with more than 10 people can lead to chaos. Include and invite only the people who are essential to the discussion to keep things streamlined and efficient.
  3. Make an agenda: One week before the meeting, send a meeting agenda to the participants so they have a clear idea on how to prepare themselves. This will save time and make your online meeting run much more smoothly.
  4. Test before going live: Online meeting software is a must for virtual meetings. Make sure you test how your chosen software works and ensure that all participants are familiar with it. Problems with technical tools during the meeting can waste time and make the meeting inefficient.
  5. Choose a ringleader: Having a designated leader can help the team adhere to the meeting agenda and get everyone back on track in case of distractions. During a virtual meeting, people can easily become preoccupied by things like emails or other work. A facilitator can keep the meeting moving to prevent attendees from tuning out or getting caught up in other tasks.
  6. Don’t butt in: Communication relies on more than just spoken words. Facial expressions and body language keep conversations fluid and the speakers’ intentions clear. In a virtual meeting, these nonverbal aspects are less obvious. Because of this, attendees might miss the cue of another person taking her time to speak up. Ask the person who spoke before you if she has anything else to add before taking your turn.
  7. Make it inclusive: If you’re running a virtual meeting where some attendees are gathering in person while others are attending virtually, make sure you include everyone equally to help with remote team-building. For example, if someone tells a joke in the meeting room and everyone laughs, try to make sure the remote attendees are in on it, too.
  8. Give everyone a focus: To cut down on distractions and make sure everyone is engaged, take advantage of the capabilities of most online meeting software platforms to share your screen, slides or charts. This will give everyone something visual to focus on during the meeting.

This article was re-published with permission from