A perfect virtual meeting doesn’t happen by itself.
It takes planning, organization, and dedication.
A well planned, well run conference call can be highly successful.
One or two participants who fail to follow the rules or don’t understand them can create Havoc.
Worse still if they try to use the wrong equipment.
This can ruin the call for everyone and destroy any chance you ever had of holding a meeting over the phone.
Some of the things that can prove absolutely disastrous for a conference call might seem fairly innocuous.
However they can create havoc if they occur during a conference call.
Before anything else you need to ensure you have the right people in the meeting.
Once you have that in place you have to invite everyone with time, date, and how to get into the virtual meeting room.
Don’t think you are done yet.
Confirmations on the initial invite will solidify the time and dates/
Confirmations the day before will help eliminate people ‘forgetting’.
The morning of your meeting you also should remind attendee’s about the meeting, the time, and the agenda.
At this time ask again for confirmation of attendance.
If any major players are unable to attend this is your last chance to re-schedule the entire meeting.
While not required it is an easy thing to send out a 5 minute reminder and to start up the meeting 5 minutes early.
This allows everyone to log in, and you can deal with anyone who needs help prior to the start.
Perfect Virtual Meeting Structure
Meeting Room, face to face meeting can be highly successful with little preparation or planning.
It is critical for online Conference Meetings to provide a well planned Structure.
The most important piece of this puzzle is Pre and Post meeting structure.
The Best meetings start with everyone having a Meeting outline in their hands.
They know what to expect and when the topics of most interest to them will be talked about.
The meetings become disjointed and messy if everyone is trying to get the meeting to focus on their topics all at the same time.
This creates a very messy meeting and everyone is frustrated.
Make it clear up front that you will be following the outline.
That everyone has to follow that outline for it to work smoothly.
Avoid one of the biggest mistakes when planning a conference call !
Don’t assume that all of the potential participants know all about conference calls and how they work.
Failing to send out a clear agenda can allow your call to degenerate into a free-for-all conversation.
Everyone walks away from those meetings feeling like it was not time well spent.
Avoid confused and unprepared Participants:
Send out clear instructions for how to prepare for the call.
How to log on to the call.
How to log off the call, and how to conduct themselves during the call.
The agenda and the instructions need to be sent out well in advance of the planned conference call,.
Participants have plenty of time to prepare for the perfect Virtual meeting.
Always Start On Time !
Punctuality is an absolute must for the perfect virtual meeting!
All participants should be completely ready a few minutes before the call is due to start.
Participants must know exactly how to use the phone and its buttons during the conference call.
Some actions will have catastrophic consequences for the other participants.
If you put the conference call on hold while you answer another line, then the hold music will play,.
This prevents the other participants from hearing each other at all.
Participants must also make sure that they have all the relevant information and materials right in front of them before the call starts.
Then they are not delaying the call while they dig around for a pen.
Worse by going through their filing cabinet looking for information that they should have had ready beforehand.
It is imperative that you choose the right place to be in while you participate in a conference call.
Trying to participate in a group conversation while outside and using a cellphone will not work at all.
How to Prepare for the Perfect Virtual Meeting
There are several things in this vein that need to be taken into consideration before joining in on a conference call.
One is security
To discuss sensitive or private topics you will need to ensure that you are in a place where you cannot be overheard.
This means an office with a closed (and preferably locked) door.
This ensures unauthorized listeners will not be able to hear you at all.
You need to be able to access any online documents or informational materials that are relevant to the call.
You will need to have access to a computer.
Remember that the MIC is Always On
While you are on a conference call, remember that whatever you are doing can probably be heard by the other participants.
For this reason, it is never appropriate to eat your lunch while on a conference call, or even chew gum.
Multi-tasking is another no-no, since rustling papers or running a printer can drown out a conversation very easily.
You need to eliminate background noise as much as possible, so that everyone else can clearly hear what is going on.
Failing to pay attention to the proceedings can leave you in the uncomfortable position of being suddenly asked a surprise question.
You realize that you lost the thread of the conversation five minutes ago and have no idea what you are supposed to be saying.
Always Introduce Yourself
It is very poor form in a conference call to fail to introduce yourself each time you speak.
Don’t talk over other people, interrupt, or monopolize the conversation.
Those kinds of things are rude everywhere, of course, but they are disastrous in a conference call.
They create confusion among the other participants and prevent the group from accomplishing anything.
Yelling, interrupting, making snide comments, and deliberately not allowing someone who disagrees with you to speak doesn’t work.
It is astonishing how many people seem to believe that they can get away with it in a conference call.
As though nobody will know ti was them, so they will get away with it.
There are a lot of different ways to set up a conference call,.
And a lot of different ways to conduct the call.
But unless basic rules of conduct are followed, no conference call can ever be successful.
Many people work in a traditional office and only go to meetings down the hallway,.
But a new breed of satellite office workers are now only using Video Conferencing methods for all there meetings.
Read our Main Article on Video Conferencing to understand your options and limitations.