It is now a cliché that Covid has caused more advances in the adoption of remote presence technology and videoconferencing as productivity tools than the industry’s marketing activities caused in the previous 10 years.

This has the potential to create large benefits, but like all technologies, has also the potential to create significant disadvantages, often due to people trying to do more with the system than it was intended to achieve. 

In the context of remote meetings by video conference, this often takes the form of assuming that people develop a relationship with each other just as well over video as they do in “real life”.  The reality is that, while it can be done, the relationships people form using video-only take longer to form, are not as deep and break down more easily than the relationships between groups that meet in person, even only occasionally. This can be important to understand, as particularly in governance contexts, the relationship between meeting members directly contributes to the meeting’s effectiveness.  Video calls let people fill in a speaker’s intent and motivation more than text-only or voice-only communication, but this is kick-started by having pre-existing face-to-face relationships.

Another disadvantage is that all the tips and hacks we have learned to make running meetings easier in a lifetime of face-to-face meetings, now need to be re-learned (or even discarded) to suit the digital medium our meetings now tend to use.  This article hopes to present some tips for running meetings and events online to mitigate this issue.  They are aimed at meeting organisers but hopefully will be of interest to others as well.  “Meetings and Events” is a large scope, though, and not all events will need the same level of attention.  Each meeting will have its own requirements for formality, record-keeping, interaction and relationship; and these requirements will translate into different ways to manage the specific meeting.

Planning and Preparation 

Hopefully, this is something you do for face-to-face meetings as well.  Because video communication leaves out a lot of the subliminal content we unconsciously take for granted for in-person meetings, good planning and pre-meeting communications are arguably even more important. 

  • Set up the meeting and invitation as far in advance of the meeting as you can, and configure it so that participants can join the meeting (at least to the waiting room) before the meeting and encourage them to check they can access the meeting with all the audio, video, sharing etc working as they expect.  For a presentation or seminar, you may even consider doing a “dry-run” with the presenters. 
  • Produce a “running sheet” for the event.  This is like an agenda, but is typically more detailed and focused on the production requirements, not the content.  It could indicate things like timings, backgrounds, and resources needed when things like notices need to be put in the chat, when videos need to be played etc. 


One thing I learnt as a consultant is that it is really, really hard to both run a meeting and take good notes.  Contrary to a lot of opinions expressed to me, this doesn’t get easier in an online context.  In fact, if you have to manage the technology as well, you are now trying to do 3 things at the same time instead of two. 

  • Appoint someone whose only job is to take notes.  If you need to do more than fire up the meeting and share a screen once or twice, appoint someone else to manage the technology.  If it’s even mildly complex, consider producing a running sheet for them. 
  • Consider using a software notetaker.  With the surge in AI that’s happening in the tech space just now, there are some significant advances in this space.  I’ve been playing with a Zoom plug-in called Fathom AI notetaker for a while and the results are impressive.  I initially considered it a good fit only for enterprise sales calls it now seems to be a good general-purpose tool.  At a meeting last week, I was blown away by the 2 sentence summaries it generated on the fly for each section of the meeting. 

Screen sharing

If you are sharing a document or a PowerPoint slide, consider logging into the meeting from a separate computer (no camera or microphone needed) and sharing the document from there.  Then you can Pin the screen or remove it as required.  You can also pin the document side by side with the speaker, giving a much better view of the speaker than Zoom’s default thumbnail view. 

Running the Meeting or Event 

  • When hosting a video call with a large group, try to ask specific questions to specific people, and use their names when doing so.  This establishes who will be answering the question and avoids the ever-awkward “No, you go ahead.  No, you!” situation. 
  • If you (or your technical delegate) need to share information in the Chat during the meeting, set all the information up beforehand in a document, then cut and paste it at the relevant time.  This saves getting it wrong at the psychological moment or forgetting.  Don’t forget to put the name and location of the file in the running sheet! 

If nothing else, consider these six golden rules for better video meetings, (adapted from a Trello™ blog post): 

  • Use video for strengthening existing relationships 
  • Have equipment that works – and test that it is still working before your meeting 
  • Look professional yourself and aim for a professional-looking delivery, flowing smoothly from topic to topic. 
  • Make sure everyone feels included 
  • Set up team rules to make video meetings more manageable – this can be just as simple as waiting till called on before speaking, but whatever the rule is, it needs to match the requirements and purpose of the meeting.  For example, if you are running a brainstorming meeting, preventing people from speaking till called on may be counterproductive. 

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