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For the past six months, business meetings have definitely looked a little different. People are utilizing Zoom calls, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams to replace the in-person meeting.

Some don’t like mask protocol, some have their kids at home with them and some just see the advantage of having an online meeting (with one person or a team of them).

The one hiccup is we just went from in-person meetings to chaos-driven online meetings. And in some cases, we didn’t stop to learn how to run these meetings. Virtual meetings are different than in-person meetings. And they need to be managed different.

Here are five things to do to make sure your online meeting runs as smoothly as it would in-person:

Be clear about what people will see and do

When you send out those first invites, tell people who’s presenting and co-presenting. Let them know they’ll be seeing a slide deck, as well as anything else they’re going to get.

If there are takeaways, make sure you have everything ready to go. And be really clear on what people can expect as a followup after the meeting.

Leverage the power of the chat bar

Utilize the chat bar on any of the online platforms.

Let your audience know from the beginning that you’re going to be making some notes in the chat bar. And use it as a place to ask questions.

Even with a meeting of two or three people, it’s nice to use the chat bar so nothing gets left out. Just be clear about the chat bar at the beginning of the call so it isn’t too distracting when people are talking.

Send out a detailed agenda 24 hours prior

This one can apply whether you’re online or not. But online is very unforgiving if you don’t send out an agenda.

It’s really important to all know the purpose of the meeting. Why are you even having a meeting?

Lay it out in a simple format for everyone. Point form is fine.

Be on time and be present

As in military time. As in 15 minutes early.

Check your technology over and over. Make sure it works. Make sure your headphones are attached and your mic is plugged in. This is a non-negotiable. It can be set up way ahead of time, since it’s so distracting when it doesn’t work.

And during the call, be present, not scrolling on your phone out of frame. (Hey, we’ve all done it.) If you’re in the meeting, you are in the meeting.

Know where you’re looking

The best way to do this is by putting a sticky note just above the camera on your monitor. I use a pink one and it reminds me where to look. I’ve drawn a face on it and put SMILE underneath to remind myself of that as well.

I’ve become very comfortable with online meetings, so I’ve made it a rule that any initial meeting is done online. That saves me (and my guest) travel time, no rush hour traffic and the meeting runs just as smoothly.

It’s taken me a few months to get into my rhythm with virtual meetings, but I follow my check list (that I’m sharing below) to ensure a success all the way around:

  • Email invitation sent with Zoom link (and calendar link if that applies).
  • Send over agenda.
  • Print off agenda and have it right by your desk.
  • Sticky note on camera with SMILE.
  • Equipment check.
  • Background check (not distracting).
  • Notebook and paper for taking notes.
  • Be on time.

After the call is over and the same day:

  • Email followup as to the meeting’s takeaways or action items.
  • Continued followup as necessary.

I hope you find this helpful as you continue to grow your online business online.

Donita Fowler is an online marketer who supports entrepreneurs in their quest to be the boss of their online platforms.

Donita is a Troy Media contributor. Why aren’t you?

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