The internet now makes it easier than ever for businesses to connect with people all over the world. Whilst this opens many new avenues and opportunities it can make communications expensive if you're regularly traveling for face to face meetings or drawn out if you're relying on emails.
Whether you need to speak with remote employees, international customers or suppliers at the other end of the country, Skype is the business communications tool that can keep things simple and personal while still keeping all parties time and money.
The key to running a successful business meeting on Skype is simply to be prepared. Whilst you can not prepare for every technical hiccup and glitch there are plenty of ways you can prepare to mitigate interruptions and keep your attendees engaged, here are our top tips:
Create a group list with everyone's Skype ID
The very first thing you should do is make sure you have the correct Skype ID for everyone who will be attending the virtual meeting and pop them all into a new group list. This way you can quickly and simply call everyone at once on the day.
Make it clear who is calling who
To avoid any confusion make it clear on your meeting invitation that you will call everyone to avoid receiving multiple calls just as the meeting is due to start.
Set start and end times (and consider time zones)
Consider the timing of your meeting carefully it you're including people in different time zones. Set a start and end time for the meeting that you know you can realistically stick to.
Create and circulate an agenda
To avoid a stereotypical 'pointless' meeting make sure that you've mapped out an agenda prior to the meeting and circulated it with the invitation to give everyone time to think about the points that are being discussed. It's a great idea to try to involve everyone participating in the agenda to keep people alert and engaged.
Be there early
If you're online soon it gives you time to problem-solve any issues you or other attendees are having with microphones, wifi connections or webcams prior to the start time to avoid wasting precious time on getting set up.
During the meeting
Use video if possible
Although it may not always be possible for everyone to use video, it's a great thing to encourage where possible. It's a lot easier to keep your meeting attendees engaged if everyone can see each other, not only does it may the whole experience more personal, it also makes people less likely to give in to distractions.
Turn off distractions
On the topic of distractions, make sure that you minimize what distractions you can by choosing a quiet room to call into the meeting from and closing down your emails for the duration of the session. There's nothing more distracting than an intriguing looking email pinging up at the bottom of your screen when you're mid-sentence.
Decide actions on the call
To avoid your meeting becoming a lot of talk followed by little action, make sure that you leave time on the call for deciding what action is going to be taken as a result of the meeting. Once the actions have been determined you can discuss who will be responsible for each one and when they can reasonably be completed by.
After the meeting
Distribute notes and actions agreed
Finally, to tie everything up nicely and for the sake of complete clarity, it's useful to send a copy of the minutes from the meeting and actions agreed to all that attended.