How many of you have played conference call bingo? Not a day goes by here when we don’t have a video call with somebody trying to talk on mute. Yesterday my daughter wandered into my video call to ask to watch Disney Plus. We’ve all experienced this right?!

Here are a few top tips for effective online meetings (feel free to circulate to colleagues that can’t find the mute button!):

– Embrace the video – Nobody is looking their best on video – fact! Being present and seeing one another is all part of staying connected. Don’t hide away, turn the camera on and try to stay present, no matter how tempting it is to do other work whilst people are talking.
– Use earphones/headsets – This gives a much better sound quality if your phone or WiFi isn’t the best.
Establish some guidelines – The chair might suggest that everyone mute themselves unless speaking, so as to avoid background noise (random dogs barking, coughs, etc). Perhaps suggest raising a hand if you want to speak, or writing a question in the chat box.
– Speak clearly – It’s often difficult to hear people on a call, particularly if you get a mumbler or someone that covers their mouth. Speaking clearly and steadily keeps everyone engaged.
– Keep slides simple – If you’re sharing a screen, remember that delegates might be joining from a mobile device, so try to keep your slides simple and not overly wordy.
– Engage participants regularly – Just as in a normal meeting, there are always those that talk too much. This leads to other people zoning out. Each participant should be encouraged to comment and ask questions, or talk about what they have been doing. Chat boxes can be useful here too to keep people engaged.
– Switch your phone off – Unless you are using your phone to dial into the meeting, you don’t need it on. You wouldn’t answer your phone during a normal meeting or sit there texting right? Switch it off!
– Spell out the actions – At the end of the call, someone should be spelling out the actions that need to be taken. This is usually the chair, but an EA can also do this. Summarise meeting actions and circulate any notes promptly.