How To Prepare For An Online Meeting

Online meetings have become sort of a go-to — especially after the long pandemic reign.It’s almost as if it’s become the norm that if a meeting can be accomplished online, why meet face-to-face!

So, it’s important for you to know what can go wrong in an online meeting. There are three ways an online meeting can go majorly wrong, and you have to be prepared for it: Poor network, unprofessional backgrounds or a noisy environment, and finally your batter dying.

Most of the problems you may face during an online meeting can be prevented if you craft a detailed agenda before you begin, get the technical setup right, communicate with the participants well in advance, and finally double-checking your meeting controls (if you are a host).

Let’s dive deep into these problems and how you can be better prepared before you start your online meeting.

What Can Go Wrong In An Online Meeting

Oh, well before you understand how to prepare well for an online meeting, you need to be aware of all that can go wrong in one. Plus, if you know how to mitigate these common issues, you won’t be caught out of the blue:

Poor Network

Use A Wired Connection: Using an ethernet cable for a wired internet connection can significantly enhance the stability and speed of your connection.

Unlike Wi-Fi — which can be susceptible to interference — a wired connection can provide a more reliable and consistent internet, minimizing the risk of unexpected disconnections or lags during your meetings.

Close Unnecessary Applications: Closing any unnecessary applications or browser tabs that consume bandwidth is essential. Bandwidth-heavy applications, such as file-sharing programs, streaming services, or large downloads can severely affect the quality of your video call.

By closing these apps, you can allocate more bandwidth to your online meeting, reducing the risk of poor video or audio quality.

Inform Participants In Advance: If you know you have a weak or unstable internet connection, it’s important for you to inform other participants in advance.

By giving them a heads-up, they can be prepared for potential disruptions and might adjust the meeting schedule or format accordingly.

Unprofessional Background Or Noisy Environment

Use Virtual Backgrounds: Many video conferencing platforms — like Zoom — offer the option to use virtual backgrounds.

Select a professional background or blur your existing background to maintain a level of professionalism during the meeting. This feature can help eliminate any potential distractions caused by your physical environment and keep everyone’s focus on the discussion at hand.

Utilize Headphones: Using headphones with a built-in microphone (and noise cancellation feature) can help reduce surrounding noise and ensure clear communication between you and other meeting participants.

Choose A Quiet Location: When participating in an online meeting, select a quiet and well-lit location to minimize any potential disruptions from background noise or poor lighting. Inform those around you that you’ll be in a meeting and request them to minimize any noise during that time.

And guess what, choosing a dedicated space for your meetings helps create a professional atmosphere for a more focused and productive discussion.

Battery Dying

Charge In Advance: Before starting your online meeting, ensure that your device is fully charged to avoid unexpected disruptions due to a low battery.

If possible, keep your device plugged in during the meeting to prevent any sudden shutdowns that could interrupt the discussion and cause inconvenience to other participants.

Have A Backup Device Ready: To prepare for unforeseen circumstances, have a backup device readily available in case your primary device runs out of battery during the meeting.

Having an alternative device on standby can help you seamlessly transition without causing significant interruptions to the flow of the meeting, ensuring that you can continue your participation without any major disruptions.

Enable Power-Saving Mode: Activating the power-saving mode on your device can extend its battery life during the meeting. By adjusting the settings to minimize power consumption, you can optimize your device’s battery usage and ensure that it lasts for the duration of your meeting(s).

Also, adjusting the screen brightness, disabling background apps, and managing other power-draining features can help prolong your device’s battery life and prevent any sudden shutdowns that could impact your participation in the online meeting.

Let’s say, for some reason, the above-mentioned solutions don’t really take care of the issues at hand, then having a contingency plan will come in handy.

Like, having alternative communication methods readily available — such as a direct phone number or real-time messaging platforms of your choice — to quickly inform the participants and address any concerns first-hand that may arise during your meeting(s).

How To Prepare For An Online Meeting

It really isn’t rocket science to prepare well for any online meeting. You just need to go about it in a well-structured manner, so you know why you’re having a meeting in the first place and what precisely to do that makes your participants go wow for you:

Craft A Detailed Agenda

A well-structured agenda forms the backbone of any successful online meeting (by the way, works the same for an in-person meeting as well).

An agenda provides a roadmap for the meeting, outlining the sequence of topics to be discussed and the allotted time for each agenda item.

When preparing an agenda for an online meeting, consider the following key components:

  • Begin with a brief introduction and icebreaker to create a comfortable and engaging atmosphere. This is especially important if it’s your first meeting
  • Allocate time to review the key takeaways from the last meeting and discuss any pending action items.
  • Identify the crucial topics that require in-depth discussion and allocate sufficient time for each topic.
  • If any external stakeholders or team members are presenting reports or updates, ensure that their time is allocated appropriately. If you are a freelancer or agency presenting to a client, make sure you communicate right on how much time you will be taking.
  • Reserve a segment for open discussions, questions, and feedback to encourage active participation from all attendees.
  • Conclude the meeting with a concise summary of the key takeaways and outline the actionable tasks or follow-up actions. This simply means that you must have a laundry list of tasks to have been achieved by the end of the meeting.

For example, you should have been able to arrive at a consensus on a divided topic, or should have been able to arrive at the POC for each of the pending items.

Do The Technical Setup Right

Just like the physical infrastructure like finding the right meeting room is important in a physical meeting, tech infrastructure is critical for a successful online meeting.

Before the meeting kicks off, it’s a good idea to double-check if you’ve got all the tools and plugins you need on your device. Oh, and don’t forget to give them a quick update too!

Also, make sure you have the right, as in updated, software version ready for the specific meeting platform you’ll be using. You wouldn’t want any last-minute surprises, right?

It’s always smooth sailing if you’re well-acquainted with the screen sharing feature. Try giving it a spin beforehand to make sure there are no technical hiccups when you’re in the middle of the meeting. No one wants to waste time troubleshooting during a crucial discussion, period.

If the meeting’s going to involve some polling action, it’s best to be prepared. Take a few moments to figure out how you’re going to take a poll on decisive topics well during the meeting.

Oh, and if the meeting is worth recording for future reference, make sure the recording features are all good to go. Check if they’re enabled and running smoothly on the chosen platform. Oh, and don’t forget to ensure your device has enough storage space for the recording.

Plus, if you’re thinking about saving some time on those meeting minutes, look into some automated tools that can do the heavy lifting for you. There might be some cool integrations or add-ons that can make the process a lot easier and ensure those minutes are accurate as can be.

Communicate With The Participants In Advance

Reach out to all the participants well before the meeting and ask them to RSVP. You want to know who’s in and who might not be able to make it.

And when it comes to sending out those invites, make sure you do it in advance.

Include all the important details, like what’s on the agenda, any documents they’ll need, and anything else they should be aware of. This is especially important if it’s not a regular catchup, or is your first meeting. Don’t forget to be crystal clear about the date, time, and how long the meeting is expected to last. This way, everyone can come prepared and ready to contribute.

For those who might have missed your initial invite, it’s wise to drop them a friendly reminder. A polite nudge can ensure you have an accurate headcount and that nobody misses out on the important discussions.

After all, you want everyone’s input, right? So, keeping everyone in the loop is key to a successful online meeting.

Double-Check Your Meeting Controls (If You’re A Host)

Take some time to explore the host controls provided by the meeting platform you’re using. Get comfortable with how to manage participants — including inviting them in and handling any unexpected guests.

Familiarize yourself with how to tweak audio and video settings, like controlling who can speak and when, and how to manage any technical glitches that might pop up.

It’s also handy to be prepared for any disruptive participants. If things get a bit noisy or off-topic, you should feel confident in muting individuals when necessary.

Having a handle on the process of muting and unmuting participants can really help you maintain a professional and focused vibe throughout the meeting.

Final Words

When you pay close attention to each item on this checklist and actually follow them, you’re essentially setting up a breeding ground for a top-notch online meeting — every single time.

And remember, when participants feel valued, they’re more likely to contribute actively and share their insights, leading to a more mature and meaningful exchange of ideas.

So, do you feel pumped to go and have a nice one? Let us know in the comments below!

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