Nurse taking notes, listening to remote doctor during video call
HealthMay 24, 2021

Tips for making the most out of online meetings

By: Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations across the country have had to adapt their methods of bringing people together to discuss important workplace matters.

According to a recent article in Nursing Management, the popular online meeting software Zoom connected an average of 10 million meeting participants every day in December 2019. During the pandemic, daily use jumped to over 200 million individuals.

Online meetings are now a part of life for many nurse leaders. Virtual meetings help provide convenient access to staff and nurses working on all shifts, including those on the night shift. Some worry that virtual meetings are not as effective as in-person meetings, leading to poorer team cohesion and work relationships, decreased productivity, and technical issues. However, nurse leaders can follow several simple steps to help make online meetings as beneficial as meetings conducted in person.

Plan ahead with an agenda and the right tools

Meeting organizers should choose videoconferencing software with a dial-in option to help personalize online conversations. It is important to test the technology before any scheduled meetings to ensure the application’s tools, such as chat and screen sharing, are working. Leaders should also have a plan for technological issues which may arise, knowing who to approach for technical support and solutions.

Creating an agenda that is sequenced strategically is also important so that no topic is left out of the discussion accidently. Allocate a certain time frame in which to discuss individual topics before moving on to the next point on the agenda. It may also be helpful to identify the meeting’s facilitator, note taker, and discussion leader prior to beginning the meeting.

Most videoconferencing applications interface with popular email platforms. Thanks to this, meeting facilitators may easily email everyone invited to attend the meeting to help ensure attendance. In this email, also include any documents attendees should review prior to dialing in.

Choose a suitable space for the meeting

The meeting space can help facilitate meetings among colleagues. But setting up a proper online meeting space is different from simply booking a conference room. Tech professionals recommend using a quiet, carpeted room to help minimize distractions and provide a warmer tone to the voice. Wall colors should be neutral, and the room should be well lit.

Webcams should be raised to eye level to help simulate sitting across a table from a colleague. The meeting space should also ensure privacy, particularly when dealing with sensitive topics such as patient information or personnel issues. As an added layer of security, most videoconferencing applications allow you to choose a unique meeting password, which can be changed before each meeting. Doing so helps prevent hackers and others without invitations from joining the meeting.

Facilitate the meeting with your nursing team

Before beginning the meeting, establish certain ground rules among all participants, such as no multitasking and no sidebar conversations. As participants sign on, be sure to engage them in casual conversation to help them feel more at ease. Some facilitators like to open meetings with an icebreaker or team-building activity; you can determine whether this is appropriate for your particular group.

Meeting attendees should turn on their own webcams and mute their microphones so as to prevent crosstalk and other distracting noises among participants. Individuals may mute and unmute themselves to help provide a smoother conversational flow.

If certain individuals are not participating, draw them into the conversation by asking if they have any additional thoughts or suggestions. If the topic of conversation drifts away from the meeting agenda, gently redirect attention back to the agenda topic. It may also be helpful to poll meeting participants to better engage them in the conversation.

At the end of each meeting, you should collect feedback from all meeting participants about how the online format worked. This helps identify areas for improvement and can be used to identify actions, determine responsibilities, and reach agreements on deadlines.

It appears online meetings are here to stay. Help your employees make the most out of a videoconference by following these simple tips to help keep online meetings engaging, stimulating, and productive.

Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
Freelance Health and Medical Content Writer, Wolters Kluwer Health
Sarah has over nine years’ experience in various clinical areas, including surgery, endocrinology, family practice, and pharmaceuticals. She began writing professionally in 2016 as a way to use her medical knowledge beyond the bedside to help educate and inform healthcare consumers and providers.
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