Micro Oiseau | free marketing and translation guides for micro entrepreneurs and startups

#8+ Be Professional Online: how to prepare for virtual meetings

Meeting online is a good business option for many small businesses and micro entrepreneurs, especially for home workers, those in different time zones, isolated locations and with mobility issues.

COVID19 and the necessity for social distancing has meant that millions more were introduced to software including Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Messenger, Telegram, Microsoft Teams and Skype. It’s not surprising that the virtual meeting is here to stay and, in some cases, may be the best option. So it’s important to be as prepared, professional and productive as possible for your virtual or online meetings.

Many people have found that online meetings can help boost productivity, offer greater flexibility and wider collaboration, so knowing how to make the most of any virtual opportunity is important for entrepreneurs and businesses.  

The best way to be productive is to be prepared

In this guide we’re going to look at the best way to:

  • Be a great host
  • Be a great attendee
  • Make the best use of the time allowed
  • Confidently contribute
  • Build trust with a personal, yet always professional approach
Online meetings | Micro Oiseau | how to be prepared, professional and productive

Get to know the software or application

When you have been invited to host or join an online meeting you need to ensure that you are comfortable with the software or application you are going to use, for example Zoom. Although the different applications all do a similar job, there are some differences. Importantly, don’t leave this preparation to the day of the call!

  1. Download the software, or application.
  2. You may need to create an account to use it. Usually free, it might take a little time to get it working on your computer so get started.
  3. If you already have the software on your computer, check for software updates.
  4. Check the audio and video settings. If you are not in a private space, do you need headphones and a microphone to cut down background noise?
  5. Check your Internet connection. You need a reliable connection.
  6. Are you going to share your screen to show documents, use ‘breakout rooms’ or run a video? Get comfortable with how you do that and practise with a colleague or friend.

Host preparations…

Before you do anything, decide:

1. The purpose of the meeting
2. The desired result

Then, the detail:

  • The date and time
  • Who will be invited
  • How long the call will be
  • What needs to be decided
  • Who will take notes
  • What happens after the call – the actions required
  • What happens if the Internet connection fails and how the call will be restarted

Now create an ‘agenda’ by using the information above and send this out to the invitees at least three working days before the call. People may need more time if the project is complex.

On your meeting agenda you need:

  1. Title, date and time (Check invitee time zones and make it clear to everyone which one you are using!)
  2. Confirm the software to be used, for example, Zoom, and instructions for people to join the meeting, including any passwords, links or codes. Most software platforms give you the option to automatically send out links to invitees but it doesn’t hurt to put the link again in the agenda to help people.
  3. A list of everyone invited
  4. The purpose of the meeting
  5. The points to be discussed
  6. State who will take notes, or ‘minutes’. A record of who said what and what was agreed.
  7. Outline what will happen if the internet connection fails
  8. Confirm what will happen when the meeting ends, e.g., who will send out the notes to assign actions and then follow up with people.

Finally, get online early – as host you should always be first, ready to welcome your invitees.

Invitee preparations…

  1. Make sure you know the date and time of the meeting (especially different time zones).
  2. Check you know how to join the call. Do you need an account, a link or login?
  3. Review the agenda and prepare your part of the conversation, including any documents you might need and note down any questions you may want to ask.
  4. You could be helpful by offering to note down what is discussed and agreed (the minutes) and send them to everyone afterwards. This is a great way to develop trust and show commitment to a project.
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