online meeting servicesAs the workforce in many companies spreads out and project teams are created that include members from different regions, different time zones, and even different countries, face-to-face meetings in physical conference rooms are being replaced — or at least supplemented — with meetings in the virtual space. So how can you prepare yourself for your next online meeting in order to offer an experience that compares with sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, sharing ideas, coffee and donuts?

Online meeting services make a lot of sense. They are easy on the budget, eliminate the time and expense of travel, and can be scheduled at a time when it is convenient for most participants. Online meeting services offer the possibilities of whiteboards, screen sharing, and global teamwork. Users can connect to the online meeting using the Mikogo software and an active Internet connection.

Planning an online meeting

When planning an online meeting, you need to identify clear expectations. For example, if the purpose of your meeting is to present a 6-month business strategy to key partners, the meeting will require a different itinerary than one with the purpose of brainstorming the design of a new product.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when planning an online meeting:

  • Will the meeting presenter deliver a linear presentation?
  • Do meeting participants need to speak directly with one another?
  • As the presenter/organizer how do you intend to moderate the discussion?
  • What type of information or resources do participants need to have received or read prior to the start of the meeting?
  • Is whiteboard functionality required? If so, who needs to be able to write on it?
  • Does the meeting need to be available for viewing at a later time? If so, notify all involved that the meeting will be recorded.

After you have answered these questions, you are in a good position to get started with your online meeting service and invite your participants.

You will need to provide attendees with ample notification and the necessary credentials to join the meeting. If online meetings are new for your employees, you will need to be prepared to offer assistance to those who need it. Some employees might even be reluctant to participate. Encourage them by explaining the benefits of online meetings, both in terms of convenience and cost. Be sure to highlight the security features provided.

Will virtual meetings ever eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings in a conference room? While it’s not likely to happen in the near future (not 100% at least), online meeting services most certainly offer a productive, successful way to collaborate and share information. The only drawback is, you’ll have to bring your own coffee and donuts ;-)

How do you prepare for your Mikogo meetings? If you have other points that you would like to add, please do so in the comments below.