Working from home? Have all of your work meetings moved onto Zoom, Skype, etc? 

I’m just going to make a wild guess that you are frustrated. 

I’ve got a few things I want you to try for your next meeting. If you try that and want more, just let me know.

The three essential ingredients to a decent meeting that doesn’t feel like a waste of time are:

  • Purpose
  • Right people
  • Start and end on time


To help you identify the purpose of the meeting, see if you can answer this question, 

What do you hope to learn, decide, or do differently based on this meeting?




Share what you come up with with the meeting attendees either before or at the beginning of the meeting so that everyone is on the same page and has clear expectations.

Right People

Now that you know the purpose, you can decide who is actually critical to be included on the video call. Invite only those people. Check in with those attendees to make sure everyone got the invitation and has the necessary equipment to call in to zoom. Do you have a colleague who is a critical decision-maker for this meeting? Do they use Zoom regularly? If not, offer to do a quick tech test with them before the meeting to make sure they will actually be able to use the technology. Make up an excuse if you have to. Help them save face if they are a senior leader who doesn’t want to admit that they have no idea how to mute. Set them up for success.

What if a critical person can not attend? In most cases, I would recommend postponing the meeting until they will be able to attend. You may also want to explain to them directly why they are critical to the meeting and ask how they would like to handle their absence. Perhaps they have someone else they are delegating decision making authority to who can attend instead.

One of the most frequent ways in which we waste time in meetings is when we host a meeting without the right people, spending the majority of the time talking about who we will need to bring into the conversation and who else will be required to actually get critical data or make a decision.

Start and end on time

By starting on time you send a message that you respect everyone’s time. If you are the one initiating the video call, start the call at least five minutes before the start time so that everyone can log in and get situated with their audio and video. This is also a great time for welcoming banter as attendees arrive. If you and your group are still new to using the technology, you may want to build in 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the call for welcome and orientation. This way you can still start on time, but you have a buffer before the meeting’s main purpose is addressed so that you can better ensure full participation in discussion and decision making. 

During that welcome and orientation, introduce everyone on the call if the group is not used to working together. You can also introduce features of the technology, such as the chatbox and how to toggle videos between “speaker view” and “gallery view.” Also, you can let the group know if the meeting is being recorded or not. Finally, let everyone know the logistics of how you will be enabling participation. Do you want attendees to keep their video screen on and raise their hand to be called on to speak? Do you want to use the chatbox for discussion?

Here is a basic template you can use to prepare for your next virtual meeting:

Meeting Title/Name:

Date and Time:

Link to the meeting:


What do you hope to learn, decide, or do differently based on this meeting?




Content: What is the key information that will be communicated? Is there any research or information that needs to be shared with participants in a pre or post email?


Who can serve in key roles during the meeting?

Possible roles:

Welcome and Orientation, Notetaker, Time Keeper, Presenter (Subject Matter Expert), Chat Moderator

Follow Up:

What is the next step to continue progress on this work?