Online meetings 101

So you need to have a meeting with your colleagues, and you’re leading. As everyone’s working from home it’s going to be conducted online. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. You’d be surprised at how different it is to conduct an online meeting as opposed to one IRL. Social cues and planning easily go out the window so it’s always best to go in with a clear idea in mind of what you want to happen.


Prepare all the materials you will need and the structure of the meeting well in advance. Online meetings have a bad habit of getting off track really quickly. The best way to remedy this is to make a plan with a clear structure and then stick to it. You know how to do a plan, right? Of course you do. Make one of those and decide early on whether you want to do a Q&A after each segment or wait until the end.

Organising e-meetings are pretty straightforward. Invite people then stay on top of who is coming and who isn’t, so you’re not calling out for input from those who aren’t there.


Saying it’ll work on the night is asking for something to go wrong. If you’ve got anything particularly difficult or far out to do tech wise, it’s best first doing a run through with a mate or someone you live with just to make sure everything will run smoothly. If you want to share your screen to show off a powerpoint you made, make sure you know how to do it first rather than grumbling and clicking every icon on the screen mid meeting. Remember when interactive whiteboards got introduced to your school and you had to spend nearly the entire lesson watching Mr McGregor try to figure out how to connect the board to his desktop? Don’t be Mr McGregor.


Office rules still apply last time we checked, unfortunately. Sorry. So that means looking professional (you don’t have to tell anyone about the sweatpants and slipper though). We touched on workplace etiquette when working from home not long ago, but it’s worth reiterating the points. How you present yourself on a work call is just as important as how you present yourself in the office, although some things are more forgivable. Suits aren’t necessary any more, but smart casual definitely is.

Giving time for everyone to talk and voice their opinions is also important. In real life people would talk over each other and then they’d apologise and then get on with their lives. Online meetings are a nightmare, with everyone talking over each other and enough lag that everyone keeps missing the cue to say, “Oh no, you first sorry.” Map out the structure of the meeting to your coworkers clearly, and give an order in which people can come forward and voice rebuttals and opinions in a way that minimises talking over each other as much as possible.

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