Have you ever hit mute and made Mystery Science Theater-like comments during a Zoom meeting? I have. Have you ever sat through an online call that droned on and on? What about a mandatory weekly Zoom that was a total waste of time? Have you been there, done that?

If you’re responsible for planning a Zoom meeting, don’t be “that” person. You don’t want colleagues, peers, and, worst yet, customers poised with their index finger on the mute button, ready to share a snarky retort, do you?

A successful Zoom call is planned; it’s not, or shouldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment activity. It’s not an afterthought. Planning a successful online meeting takes forethought. The first question you should answer is, “Is a meeting needed?” Do you need a meeting to accomplish what you want to get done? For example, you may need to chat with one or two people to take action, not the entire team. Next, you should consider who really needs to be in the meeting. Is it the whole department or, like I just said, only one or two team members?

How to Avoid Conducting “That” Zoom Meeting

Here’s a short outline with a few ideas to make the most out of your Zoom meeting.

Ramp it up 

  • Establish agenda points of discussion
  • Send an agenda before the conference call to all participants
  • Choose a quiet location free of interruptions
  • Test your setup prior to meeting time

Set the Stage

  • Introduce yourself and explain your role, which is to keep the meeting on track and following the agenda
  • Set a positive tone by establishing that the purpose of the meeting isn’t only to talk about stuff but to form an action plan

Share Expectations 

  • Encourage participation
  • Advise participants to stay on topic and avoid interruptions

Remember that time is money

  • Begin the call promptly
  • Don’t wait on tardy attendees—why penalize those who were on time?
  • Don’t overstay your welcome. Set an end time, and don’t go past it. However, if you finish early, don’t “fill” the time. End the meeting

Plan the Ending

  • Near the end of the meeting, ask each person for questions
  • Set an action – Ask each participant what they gleaned from the call and what action they plan to take. Take notes
  • Follow up on the action – Contact each person the following week and check the progress on their action plan

Make Your Zoom Meeting Count

Meetings in general and Zoom calls in particular, can be a time drain. There have been several studies in the last few years about how wasteful meetings are, for example, this from HubSpot. Surveys show the majority of employees think meetings are a waste of time. I agree, but with one exception. A well-planned meeting that is timely and necessary can be productive. Unfortunately, studies and surveys show us this isn’t the case. If you want your conference call to be the exception, make sure it’s needed, make a plan, and then follow it. Do you conduct or participate in conference calls? What has worked or not worked for you?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Businesses and universities use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. I’m also available to conduct training.

Image by Jagrit Parajuli from Pixabay