Hosting a video meeting is a lot like hosting a meeting on location, but with some particular quirks. Learning how to host an effective video meeting is a great skill for anyone to have. There are things that you should do before, during, and after video meetings to make sure that they are effective and give a good return on investment.

Video meeting in a roundtable discussion
photo credit: Citrix Online / Flickr

Check out tips and tricks to make your meeting the best it can be.

Before the Meeting

There are a few things you need to arrange before a video meeting in order to assure the best possible environment.

  1. Scout a location: You should look for a well-lit area with a low ambient noise level and enough room to accommodate the attendees on your end.
  2. Run a lighting test: One of the problems with video conferencing is overly bright lighting or glare. Northwestern University recommends pulling shades, and even covering or removing reflective or glass framed wall art.
  3. Background issues: Choose a location without a distracting background color or pattern. Just the same way that overly light or dark clothing does not work well on camera and patterns appear distorted, backgrounds can do the same thing. Ideally, backgrounds should be neutrally colored and of medium tones.
  4. Set the agenda: Create and distribute an agenda that states the objective and purpose of the meeting, the timeline of speakers and presentations, as well as a definite starting time and ending time in order to allow participants to arrange their workday.
  5. Video novices: Along with the agenda, you may wish to distribute tips on dressing for video. As pointed out above, strong colors, black or white clothing, and patterns may distort or distract.

During the Meeting

Once the meeting is going on, keep these tips in mind in order to keep the meeting environment optimal.

  1. Start on time: Psychology Today points out that if people know that meetings generally start late, they have very little incentive to be on time. By starting on time, and setting a penalty for being late participants are discouraged from tardiness.
  2. Stick to the agenda: Once you’ve distributed the agenda and made sure that everyone participating has received it, there is absolutely no excuse for veering from the agenda. If people need to discuss items outside of the meeting’s agenda, they should meet separately instead of disrupting the meeting’s workflow. If the other issues are thorny enough to need their own meeting, schedule one as soon as possible.
  3. Do not allow monopolies: It’s a better idea to hear from as many voices as possible, then to allow one person or group to completely dominate or subvert the agenda. Noise and motion is not evidence of progress, and can obscure the purpose of the meeting. Be very firm with the chatterboxes, allowing them to speak but within a definite framework. And do not be shy about encouraging your more reticent colleagues to contribute.
  4. Allow ample time for questions and answers: Video conferencing software by Blue Jeans gives users the means to record their meetings for later review and playback. In the case of question and answer periods this comes in especially handy and can act as reference material for post meeting communications.
  5. Be very specific about outcomes: All too often people leave the meeting with a sense of nothing having been accomplished. They don’t know who is going to do what or when it is supposed to be done. Keep track of these actionable items and to do lists so that everyone will know who is supposed to be doing what and when.
  1. Getting to the end: Don’t hold people hostage. Forbes recommends holding meetings that last no longer than one hour. If the meeting is to be a long one, schedule breaks so that people can get up, walk around, check in with their email or voicemail. If for some reason the meeting runs long, give participants a reasonable timeframe by which it should end.

Video conferencing

After the Meeting

Remember that your responsibility as presenter doesn’t end when everyone logs off! There are a couple points that need to be handled after the meeting is over to make sure that everything goes off as smoothly as it went on.

  1. Follow up: After the meeting follow up with the communication concerning the agenda and the outcomes of the meeting. Also make sure to solicit feedback from participants on their points of view.
  2. Take a poll: You may want to hone your meeting giving acumen by constructing a poll that allows for very specific feedback on the topics addressed, how they were addressed, and the outcomes and decisions made following the meeting.

Takeaway

Creating an environment in which a successful meeting takes place is a lot more than picking the best equipment, the best app, and the best location. A good meeting environment encourages contribution and innovation without allowing individuals or groups to dominate the discussion and agenda.

Video conferencing capabilities add value for the meeting attendances significantly. By allowing even those who are not on site to enter the meeting via laptop, smartphone, or tablet the meeting is opened up to people who traditionally might not be able to participate completely. Indeed, building an inclusive but structured meeting culture is the key to a productive and innovative meeting environment.