Stop SignAre you just getting started with your online meeting software? Or have you hosted a couple of meetings that just haven’t gone as smoothly as you planned, but you just can’t put your finger on why? Then this is definitely the right article for you.
Last month, we featured the Five Dos of Web Conferencing – now it’s time for the Five Don’ts of Web Conferencing – those sins you should avoid under all circumstances if you want your meeting to be a success.

Don’t…

1. Come Unprepared

Everyone in a web conference is giving you their very valuable time. The least you can offer them in return is to prepare anything you want to show in advance. No one wants to wait around while you look for that spreadsheet you wanted to share or try to find the directory you saved the presentation to. You know when the conference is going to take place, so make sure that you prepare as much as you can beforehand. This includes getting the agenda ready, preparing files you might want to send out, and starting your presentation. Having everything ready within a mouse click allows you to run a smooth meeting with a positive atmosphere, which will make it all the more productive for everybody involved.

2. Keep a Cluttered Space

In a meeting, you want everyone to focus on the content, such as a presentation or the project that is being discussed. Just like you wouldn’t leave a dozen postcards or magazines lying around on the table during a meeting in person, you shouldn’t keep unnecessary applications running or have a lot of shortcuts on your desktop during a web conference. These things can be distracting to your participants, and the clutter will prevent you from quickly finding the icons that matter. Additionally some of the icons or applications, like an instant messenger or your email client, might contain private information that you don’t necessarily want to share. Clean up your screen before the meeting begins: Move all those applications, files, and shortcuts that don’t pertain to the meeting away from your desktop. A clear space means a clear head for the online meeting.

3. Forget about your Participants

When you are meeting with people in person, they can see you and your body language. What’s more, you can see them drifting off and instantly switch tracks to regain their attention. In an online meeting, you can’t make use of this direct interaction to engage your participants. Luckily, web conference solutions offer other great ways to get your audience involved. You can give someone else the opportunity to present by switching to their screen, or by giving them control of the presentation on your screen. You can also use a digital whiteboard to let everyone create annotations and highlights on your screen transmission. Including a Q&A period in the meeting will also help your audience to stay on track.

4. Get Lost

Speaking of staying on track: In this day and age, no one really has time to spare. This makes it all the more important for you to have an agenda, and to not get side-tracked during the meeting. Of course, someone might have an interesting question that might lead off to a different point. It’s essential that you don’t cut the participants short and that you show them that you value their input. However, you also need to think of the group as a whole. Does everybody really benefit from this question or discussion, or is it something that belongs near the end of the meeting or even in a separate meeting with a different group of people? Many issues need to be discussed among the whole group so that everyone can benefit from each other’s opinions and questions. These are the issues that should be on your agenda, and these are the issues you should focus on. If you stray too far from your agenda, you won’t reach the goal you have set for the meeting – certainly not in time.

5. Lose Track of Time

StopwatchThe participants in your web conference rely on you to guide everyone through the meeting so that it starts and ends on time, and all the points on the agenda are covered in between. When you’re creating a schedule, you need to be realistic about how much time each point will take – no one benefits from overly optimistic planning. Also, ranking your issues in descending order of priority is a good way to make sure that you cover the essential points before anything else. Lastly, remember to save some time specifically for questions and discussions. Even if time is short, you shouldn’t cut the Q&A period from your meeting.

While a sound schedule is a great basis for a meeting, your work doesn’t end with planning. The best-laid plans can go astray if you dwell on an issue for too long, or if two participants get into a heated discussion. Make sure to keep an eye on the clock as you go through the points on your agenda. Everyone will be grateful if the meeting finishes on time.

Don’t Forget These Tips!

Time to try out all those new tips while they’re still fresh in your mind! Sign up for a free Mikogo account which comes with all the Pro features free for the first 14 days.

If you want to find out more about how you can host successful online meetings the first time, every time, be sure to check out our detailed guide on this topic – it’s free! Guide: Online Meeting Best Practices.

If you’re looking for further mistakes to avoid, read up on our 7 Deadly Sins of Web Conferencing 🙂

Discussion: Has anything ever happened to you in a web conference that you wished you had known to avoid? Have you ever been a participant in a meeting that was poorly executed? We all learn from each other’s mistakes (or at least share a good laugh), so share your experiences in the comments below! We look forward to hearing from you.