Life has changed so much in the previous few years and our working lives have continued to evolve searching for that all important balance of working in-person vs working remotely. When we were forced to embrace applications such as Teams and Zoom, we learned to work in a way that we may not have thought possible previously, giving rise to hybrid and permanent remote working roles. So as online meetings look like they are here to stay, how can we get the most from them and truly master the art of online engagements? 

Benefits of online engagements

The benefits of online meetings and engagements are numerous. With a decent internet connection, you can participate from practically anywhere. Workshops can be recorded and saved to act as a refence point or share with colleagues to enhance training and personal development. Booking meetings became easier and more people could join, no need to find a room or spend time travelling. The technology enabled truly collaborative meetings where documents could be shared, amended, or even worked on together.  

Challenges of online engagements

However, some aspects remain difficult. Meeting clients and presenting to them in person gave the opportunity to build the soft skills. Relationships are easier to judge and manage when you can read the non-verbal messages. We know when someone is engaged and if a product or idea is landing well or not. This is more about feelings rather than objective facts and is much harder to gauge in the online environment. 

Workshops are less interactive online, instead of a conversation they can become a series of questions and answers. More people join online meetings and often do not engage, however if someone is needed to answer a specific query it’s easier to get hold of them and invite them into the conversation. 

So, considering all these benefits and challenges, how can we run effective online meetings and presentations?  

Tips to master online meetings & presentations

  • Prepare and communicate before the meeting – making sure everyone knows what they will get out of the meeting will add value and ensure you get the right people in the room. 
  • Introductions – keep is short and sweet, no long-life stories just establish your credentials and understand who is at the meeting and their role/reason for being there. 
  • Set out the framework and expectations – this will help people to understand when they can ask questions and how to conduct themselves during the meeting.  
  • Everyone should have a role – explain why the team members are at the meeting, delegate someone to manage hands up and questions in the chat. Agree before how questions will be communicated to the presenter. 
  • Screen sharing – check everyone can see and increase the size if necessary. 
  • Pause – give time for you and clients to breath, pause and provide the space for questions throughout the presentation. 
  • Read the room – this is possible and comes with practise. When screen sharing, if possible, use 2 screens so you can see the room and use visual clues to guide you. You will be able tell if people are engaged, disinterested and in need of a break. Adapt in just the same way as you would in person. 
  • Make sure everyone has had a chance to contribute – at their best meetings should be a conversation where both sides learn from each other. Notice who is speaking and who is not, engage with everyone. 

As online engagement remains a big part of how we work, continuing to develop online skills is vital and should be a part of continuous personal development for everyone.