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Five Gems That Make Productive Zoom Meetings
May 29, 2014 by Zoom

There are tools in every mechanic’s toolbox. Each one has a specific function used together to accomplish many complex tasks. With these tools, the mechanic is empowered with abilities ranging from a simple tire change to the entire engine rebuild. No matter what you are trying to accomplish, getting the right tool for the job will certainly help. But there is one truth about this that simply cannot be avoided by anyone, mechanic or not: a tool is only as good as the person who wields it.

You can have the best angle grinder, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to cleanly cut through steel. The same is applicable to companies. If you’re using Zoom, congratulations! You now find yourself a proud user of a very powerful piece of software. There’s a caveat, however, to using video meetings to get jobs done. To hit the nail without striking your thumb, you need to have a certain degree of control over your meetings, get acquainted with Zoom’s features, and acquire the proficiency necessary to pull the reigns on your team when you’re trying to get work done.

We’re now going to analyze five ways you can utilize Zoom (sometimes in tandem with other tools you have) to make your meetings much more productive.

Agenda1: Establish a public forum where meeting ideas are shared.

Each meeting has to have an agenda. Items on that agenda can vary anywhere from discussing the state of product X to making major decisions about the direction of the team. Each team member has issues of their own to address. If you’re not willing to listen, you will have hosted a meeting that really doesn’t do anything.

You’d be surprised with what your team can come up with in terms of agenda items. Invite everyone to contribute what they can to the list, and make sure the list is accessible to them so they can freely edit it. You can use a cloud-based document editor, a task management application, or a CRM. All of these things have interfaces specifically designed for text-based collaboration. With the ever-growing importance of video collaboration, we tend to forget the other ways we can collaborate to make meetings go smoothly. Text is still very powerful and should be used at every opportunity when organizing a meeting.

2: Share the final draft of the meeting agenda.

If you’re going to go the agenda route we just discussed above (which you will inevitably do, lest you find yourself banging your head against your desk wondering how people ever managed to herd cats), you’re in for an unpleasant surprise if you leave that drafted agenda hanging around in empty space.

A few hours prior to your meeting, remove all editing rights on any collaborative documents concerning the meeting. This brings closure to the brainstorming process and tells everyone that all changes are final. Of course, to achieve the most productivity out of the awesome agenda you just created, you need to email a copy to each member of your team.

When each person has a copy of the meeting program, they will know their cue and will understand where they fit in each subject discussed. It leads to a more dynamic meeting where the most interested parties participate in the discussions that concern their particular role in the team.

Stopwatch3: Allot some time for each subject.

Now, you’re about to enter the meeting. Let’s dive in. Oh, by the way, you did give each subject a particular time slot, right? Riiight?

You see, if a subject doesn’t have a set amount of time to run its course, it may end up entering what is known in programming as an infinite loop. Basically, a long and winding ride to nowhere. You’re quickly going to get this if you don’t know when to simply cut this part of the discussion.

You can either frame this like a debate, giving each participant a certain amount of time to present his/her point back and forth on each topic; or you can frame it “death match” style, giving everyone a fixed amount of time to squeeze out everything they want to say for the meeting. See what works and what doesn’t, and stick to what makes the team stronger.

To Do List4: Don’t forget about the future.

Once you’ve got all the present issues down, it’s time to start talking about what the team should start doing from this point forward. Give them something to focus on until the next meeting.

At the end of your meeting, take time to create an Action Items list. This list includes all to-do’s, who is responsible for each one, and when the items are due by. As the meeting leader, you should add an item for yourself: follow up and make sure everyone is completing their tasks.

Also, if you’re going to have regular meetings, you might as well use the recurring meetings feature in Zoom’s scheduler. This way, you don’t have to deal with finger pain from arranging so many meetings manually.

5: Follow Basic Meeting Etiquette

You’re leading the meeting, so you should be a good example for your colleagues. Not adhering to basic video meeting etiquette is distracting for all the meeting participants. Can you be more specific? Well sure, but let’s not repeat ourselves. Instead, check out our previous post on Video Conferencing Etiquette.

Remember your toolbox.

In the end, every single tool a company uses must contribute to its productivity. In this sense, you must learn to use Zoom in a way that drives your projects. Once you do so, even the most difficult tasks become simpler as participants engage each other with new ideas and discuss trouble spots.

Don’t use Zoom? You should try it now by signing up for a free account!