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Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

Richard Buxton

Head of Collaboration at Node4

I’ve worked in various roles within IT and communications for over 20 years and one thing that I’ve really noticed is the increase in meetings I host or attend.

As Head of Collaboration, I promote and deliver tools that help organise and manage meetings, delivering a rich user experience. It’s rare that I attend an entirely ‘in person’ meeting these days – usually at least one person is connecting via a video or remotely, using tools such as Cisco Webex Meetings. Audio-only conference calls are also declining, in favour of collaboration.

These tools, when used correctly, can help improve the experience for everyone. Gone are the days of unreliable, unbearable dial-in connections – now we can have a fully immersive experience, regardless of location or device.

From my personal experience, and discussions I have had with many of our customers during project scoping sessions, here are some of the best practices I think could improve most collaborative meetings:

 

Keep the length short and the numbers low:

When we analysed the collaboration meetings in our business, we noted that most were scheduled for one hour (or multiples of one hour), but the actual average duration of a meeting was around 45 minutes maximum. Most people unnecessarily schedule for an hour purely out of habit.

Adding 20 people to a two-hour meeting is the equivalent of having an employee out of the office for an entire week. Anyone who doesn’t desperately need to be there could just receive meeting notes or an easy-to-access recording.

 

It’s all in the prep:

Send an agenda, detailing the purpose, running order, any expected pre-work and the expected outcome.
Research shows about 25% of its effectiveness occurs before a meeting if people can prepare for what’s required of them and can cover questions right there on the spot.

 

Use the technology:

Video first: Meetings are much more collaborative when people can see each other. Even the most camera-shy person will soon become comfortable on screen when it becomes the norm.

Join using your name: It is much easier to see who is online when you have a list of names, rather than lots of ‘anonymous users’ or telephone numbers listed in the meeting tool. If there is an option to join the meeting anonymously, don’t do it.

Consider using the lobby: This allows you, as host, to bring everyone into the call at once. If the meeting includes lots of people that do not know each other, it avoids the awkward small talk whilst everyone waits for the meeting to start.

Mute on entry: Set the meeting to automatically mute everyone when they join. Allow them to unmute themselves when they wish to talk. Particularly if there are lots of attendees.

 

Follow up:

No matter how good the technology is, it won’t make up for muffled voices or anyone who is slightly hard of hearing. Record the session and send out the link to participants so they can review later. It also means that they can fully engage and not have to concentrate so much on taking notes.

The best advice out there is to find out every last thing your technology can deliver and make sure that everyone has training so you can really get your ROI. If you’re unsure what your system can do, or want to see what’s out there, get in touch and we can point you in the right direction.

 

Interested in learning more about Collaboration? Come along to Techfest.

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Businesses are increasingly seeing demand for internal and external collaboration using voice, video, instant messaging and conferencing with intuitive client applications and Artificial Intelligence. Our collaboration zone will be a place to discuss all thing collaboration with our own experts.

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