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Did you know?

These statistics about meetings


Meetings Per Month


Hours Wasted Per Month


Percent Time Wasted

Atlassian Infographic


These facts are for all business meetings. Now imagine what these numbers would be for virtual meetings.

We all are experiencing the sudden change in our work processes and tools. Most were not prepared for it. If meetings were a part of our everyday work, virtual meetings would be an everyday necessity in this period of lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus, which has forced many corporate employees to work from home.

The use of virtual meeting tools has suddenly jumped up, and it is expected to stay up for a long time. Even after we start working in our offices again, virtual meetings will continue to rule, as employees become comfortable with the concept and tools, while the management sees the benefits of saved time and cost.

Much of the growth in the category is due to the increased adoption of apps like Google’s Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom Cloud Meetings.

Changing Work Trends With Virtual-Meeting Tools

Cost Saving
Less Carbon Impact
More Flexible Work Schedule
Reduced Business Travel
Improved Employee Retention
Sharing Real Time

Reality Check!

Virtual Meetings Considered Ineffective

US$ 10 Bllion
Cost for unproductive virtual meetings

Why virtual meetings fail?

Bring other work to a meeting
Time irrelevant issues are discussed

Does this mean we should stop having virtual meetings?

Of Course Not! But The Question Is HOW?

Like Email, Dining, and Telephone Etiquette, Virtual Meetings too have etiquette, rules and steps to follow to make them effective and productive. The steps for conducting effective virtual meetings follow.

Before the Meeting

What is the purpose?

Define the Purpose

  • Information sharing?
  • Brainstorming?
  • Group editing?
  • Online presentation?
  • Small working group?

Prepare for the Purpose

Participants: Who are the participants and how many times would you need to meet. Each session should ideally not be for more than 90 min to avoid loss of attention. Confirm attendance for long distance attendees.

Agenda: Sets out topics to be covered, desired outcome , expectations of attendee, time assigned, who all will present. Send material docs in advance for preparation in advance.

Time: Consider time-zones, take planned breaks

What can go wrong: Prepare for right technology or tool, have the right camera placement, internet, sitting position. In case of contact alert assign a contact person, contact number of each attendee for change in agenda so that no one is left hanging. Do a dry-run. Familiarize yourself with the tool. Have test meetings. Check you microphone for audio clarity and level.

Determine Participants

Who?: Who all will participate

How many?: How many will participate

Where?: Where will the meeting be held (platform)

When?: The time for the meeting


Assigning roles to meeting participants will also achieve meeting objectives and keep participants engaged. There are the important roles:

Owner: The meeting owner sets goals and deliverables for the meeting, determines who needs to be there, what technology to use and what type of preparation is required from meeting participants.

Facilitator: The meeting facilitator manages the meeting process, for example by communicating the agenda, keeping the team focused and managing group dynamics during the meeting.

Participant: Participants attend the meeting and are responsible for preparing for and being engaged during the meeting.

Scribe: The scribe, or recorder, keeps meeting notes and shares them with meeting participants.

Gatekeeper: The gatekeeper “watches the gate of participation” and makes sure that everyone has equal opportunity to participate and express their views.

Technology: Technology controls the technology being used and its features. and provides technical support.


  • The desired outcome
  • Topics to be covered
  • Expectations from the attendees

As session leader, make the line of sight between the contribution of your participants and the impact of the meeting deliverable, crystal clear. One way to capture this expression is by asking, “What is at risk if this meeting fails?” Rather than claiming your meeting is “important”, prove it.

Selecting the Tool

  • Access: Who has access?
  • Support, Training: Is support and training readily available?
  • Utility: Are the features as desired?
  • Security: Is the security adequate?

There are a number of tools available these days. Each has its pros and cons. Each has different reasons for their popularity.

In most cases, your organization would have already evaluated and selected a tool for you. If not, and if you are the decision-maker, then consider all aspects of the popular tools before deciding. Check their trials, if available. The decision on the tool is usually made once. Take your time in this evaluation.

Do the Dry-Run

Dry-run is when you gather a small group for the purpose of testing the tool, its features, its performance, and run the agenda in brief. Ideally, at least all those with key roles should be present in the dry-run, along with a few general participants.

Additionally, …

Send all material or documents ahead of time, so that the participants are prepared.

Arrange lights, camera, sitting position, and a professional look for the video feed of those with key roles. Some tools would allow you to change the background of your video feed. Ensure there’s enough light from the front and none behind you visible on the camera.

Have a backup plan. Evaluate what all could go wrong or fail and what would you do if any of that happens. The backup could be of the connectivity, system, facilitator or any such thing depending on your setup and participants.

Répondez S'il Vous Plaît (RSVP)

This is for the Owner to request, but more importantly, for the participants to respond to.

RSVP is a French expression meaning répondez s’il vous plait. That translates to “please respond.” If you ever get an invitation in the mail that includes a request for you to RSVP, it means that the host of the event is asking for you to let them know whether or not you will be able to attend. It is a basic etiquette to accept or decline a meeting invitation. It is also important to update the response if you have a change of plan.

RSVP is pronounced as “ree-pond-ez, see, voo, play"

During the Meeting

Actions required by the Facilitator

  • Clearly establish who is present
  • Verify connectivity
  • Instruct attendees on process
  • Set expectations

Address people by name to avoid repeating sentences and to grab attention.

Check if you remote participants can clearly see your video and hear you.

Check with attendees who would be presenting and doing real time edits conducting polls are ready.

How to keep it engaging?

Use PowerPoint, images or videos, online polling, annotation tools, whiteboards, and other tools to engage, as provided by your tool.

To know they are in right place, encourage feedback, ask questions, build rapport.

Actions required by the Participants

Arrive early: Expect a waiting room sometimes, and wsit for the facilitator to let you in. It is as important in a virtual meeting to be punctual as in a real-world meeting. Allow facilitators to start on time by logging in a few minutes before time.

Limit background noise: Choose a place for your workstation that free of background noise, such as vehicles, crowd, machines, or animals sounds. Some tools will also allow you to set your software to filter background noise that is unavoidable. Keep your microphone on mute, as much as possible, if you still cannot avoid some noise.

Identify yourself: Log in with your real name so that you are clearly identified. If the meeting is only over phone call, call out your name as soon as you log in.

Dress appropriately: If you are going to be on camera, dress formally, in business attire.

No food allowed: Do not bring food to the meeting, unless it is a planned meeting over lunch. Water, coffee, and tea, and other such beverages are acceptable in most cases.

Leave the keyboard alone: Do not keep fiddling with the keyboard and be distracted. Your full attention is needed at the meeting.

Avoid multitasking: Even if he meeting is long, don’t be tempted to work on unrelated tasks. Your limited participation will make the meeting less productive.

Speak clearly: Be aware that virtual meetings may have lag or the clarity of audio may be less than desired. Speak clearly and slow down the pace a bit. Repeat some very important points. Stress and pause on very important terms to ensure they are clearly heard.

After the Meeting

Questions and Answers

Always keep some time for Questions and Answers at the end of the session. Some participants may need clarity on a discussed point but may have not had the opportunity to ask. In a small group, you may even take a round of names of the participants asking if all that was discussed is clear.

Call to Action

At the end of the meeting it is important to clearly define the outcome of the meeting and what each participant needs to do as a result. This action required from each participant may be called Call to Action.
You may ask each participant, or representatives of sub-groups if the number is large, to speak out the takeaways from the meeting and the action required from that sub-group.

Minutes of the Meeting

The Scribe would have taken down the notes from the meeting proceedings, also knows as Minutes. These Minutes of the Meetings (MoMs) may be summarized by the Scribe. Alternately, the Scribe may announce by when the Moms would be sent by mail.
Whether the MoMs are summarized by the Scribe in the virtual meeting or not, they should be sent by mail regardless.

Some Ooops Moments

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