Since the outbreak of the global pandemic earlier this year, we’ve all had to adapt to virtual meetings. But just because you’re no longer able to meet with your clients and colleagues face-to-face, that doesn’t mean they have to be boring and tedious, or that you get a hall pass if you’re unprepared. The key to successful Zoom meetings is taking the right steps to ensure that they run smoothly while always keeping your audience engaged. 

In this post, we’ll look at some simple but effective best practices that you can follow to ensure that your next Zoom meeting goes off without a hitch.

Get set up and test everything in advance

While it seems like a no brainer, not everyone takes the time for this critical step. Unfortunately, it can be awkward, or even frustrating, if your guests are left twiddling their thumbs while you’re trying to figure out why your audio isn’t working or how to share your screen. If you want to ensure that everything goes to plan, always initiate the meeting a few minutes before your guests arrive so that you can ensure that everything is set up correctly and that you’re ready to go. That should include having all of the tabs and files that you plan to show people open so that you’re not having to hunt around for anything mid-meeting.

Make sure everyone knows how to join and what to expect

Even months into this pandemic, people aren’t always as Zoom-savvy as you might expect. That’s why it’s important to provide clear instructions they can follow to get set up and join your call. They’ll need to turn on their own camera and make sure they can see themselves, as well as everyone else. And, if you’re going to use some of Zoom’s advanced features (such as its polling and break out room capabilities), then you’ll want to instruct your invitees to download the app, rather than just join the meeting via the Zoom website.

Sending out an agenda in advance is also important. It lets everyone know who’s presenting what, and what different activities people will be engaging in. It also helps keep you on track, and on time.

Turn off your notifications

New emails, chat notifications, internet calls, and calendar reminders can all be a huge distraction if they’re popping up while you’re sharing your screen. Depending on your operating system, there will be different ways to ensure your notifications are turned off and that you won’t have any surprise interruptions. Make sure to check each of them before you start a meeting.

Use polls and chat to increase engagement

If you’re doing something like training or reinforcing best practices in a team meeting, polling is a great way to keep people engaged. You can deliver some information, then pull up the polling tool for a quick pop quiz. It not only reinforces what everyone is learning, but can also be a welcome break from a lot of talk-heavy content. In addition, Zoom’s chat function works well if you’re engaging with a big group of people. It allows you to post notes on the subject matter as you go and underline important points, while giving people the ability to ask questions.

Utilize break out rooms

If you have at least five people in your remote meeting, you can automatically or manually assign a set number of them to any of Zoom’s break out rooms. That way, you can give participants some privacy to quickly discuss the presentation and come back to the rest of the group with questions, comments, or opinions.

Have a contingency plan

There will inevitably be times when things go wrong that are out of your control, like when your Internet connection suddenly drops. When you’re organizing remote meetings, you need to be prepared for anything. If possible, always have a co-host who can take over if your internet goes out, your computer crashes, or something else goes wrong. You might not even realize there’s a problem, so find someone who can seamlessly take things over should the worst happen.

Zoom ahead to better remote meetings

While the best practices above aren’t exactly rocket science, following them is critical every time you host a virtual meeting. That’s because it’s the only way to ensure that you’re hosting a meeting that’s professional and engaging, and that makes the most out of everyone’s time.