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What should I know about chairing remote meetings?

Published: 1 July 2021 Last updated: 13 December 2021

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This FAQ outlines some quick tips and recommended practices for chairing meetings that are being conducted online via technologies such as Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate.

Prior to a Remote Meeting

  1. Share documents in advance. If you would like comments, consider sharing using OneDrive (or if using Teams via the Files area) where colleagues can add comments ahead of time into the document.
  2. If you know you will have colleagues who haven’t used the online meeting technology before, set-up a quick test meeting a couple of days before to allow them the opportunity to get their PC/audio/video set-up working and feel comfortable using the software.

Chairing a Remote Meeting

  1. Allow 5-10 mins before the meeting starts properly to give colleagues a chance to get settled and sort out any technical difficulties. Welcome everyone as they arrive into the meeting and explain what’s happening and when the meeting will be formally starting. It’s also a good idea to keep the chat facility open (if that option is available in your online meeting technology) as some people might let you know if they’re having problems through the chat facility.
  2. If you are deciding to record the meeting (most online meeting technologies allow this) then be clear that you will be doing this. Start recording when you bring the meeting to order.
  3. Make it clear when you are formally starting the meeting so that everyone knows when to minimise side discussions etc. It’s also a good idea to ask everyone to mute their microphones – often microphones can pick up background noises and it just helps everyone hear the conversation. Keep the chat window open as some people may ask questions through there.
  4. As chair, if you have people in the meeting who are new, ask everyone to introduce themselves but do it via a roll call to ensure people don’t talk over each other.
  5. Be aware, if you want to share anything in the meeting, that people can join meetings in several ways and you may have some people joining via phone or who can only join online via audio. Allow a bit of time for people to switch windows to view documents (the online meeting will still be running in the background).
  6. Use slides to provide some structure to the meeting and allow everyone to be clear on which agenda item is being discussed. Use a slide per agenda item and add key questions or discussion points to help keep discussions focussed.
  7. Don’t be afraid to give a quick recap for colleagues joining a few minutes late but don’t worry about it if they come in very late (as you would for a physical meeting)
  8. Don’t be afraid of pauses or silence. Sometimes people are being polite and waiting for someone else to speak first, don’t want to talk over colleagues or are just thinking the discussion point over. Remember to check in on people who’ve not said anything for a while (sometimes this can be for a variety of reasons). Be patient if it does seem a bit slow.
  9. Try to keep to time. If need be, schedule a follow-up meeting if a discussion point needs a fuller discussion, just as you would for a physical meeting.
  10. As you would with a physical meeting, summarise key actions and follow-up points. Be clear in the meeting how you will follow-up post meeting and if you are recording the meeting when and where the recording can be found.

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