02.06.2022 | Daniel Brunner

The Challenges of Online Meetings: How To Make Your Meeting a Success


The world has rarely been more connected than it is today: people exchange more information and there is more information for everyone and about everything. So you would think that an online meeting would be easy to organize, especially if a company has years of experience with it. However, organizing an online meeting can sometimes be difficult. Let’s take a look together at the most common mistakes and how we can avoid them.

Being there is everything: involving participants

Whether there are two or 200 participants: The leader of the online meeting should be clear about who is taking part in the meeting and why. Ask the participants before the online meeting what they expect. You can then send out the collected findings with the invitation. In this way, you can create an active collaboration and ensure that the online meeting is lively and stimulating.

Hitting (one) nail on the head: skillful PowerPoint presentations

In his 1996 book “The Psychology of Science”, Abraham Maslow published a sentence that has become famous: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Unfortunately, in today’s online meetings, we often notice that PowerPoint is the hammer and every piece of information is the nail. How do we avoid overloading PowerPoint presentations? Here are a few tips:

  • Let people actively participate in your online meeting. Leave out the visual component and ask participants to sketch small things or write down words. This provides new input for the discussions because different people have different perspectives.
  • If you are talking about products or services, show them live instead of just talking about them.
  • Example I: Call up your new service in the browser and show what the new navigation looks like.
  • Example II: Arrange a 3D print of your product. It doesn’t always have to be functional. Enable discussions and questions about how exactly the product works, what color it is, what kind of material will be used afterwards or where this product can be purchased.
  • Draw complex models during the presentation and avoid using ready-made graphics. This way, the participants in the online meeting can follow your explanations step by step and are not overwhelmed by information in a short space of time.

“I can’t hear you” - avoid mishaps during online meetings

Since working from home has become the new normal, every one of us has probably had to deal with a glitch in online meeting programs such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Common problems are that the URL is blocked or that administrator rights are required to install a program. That’s why we’ll give you, as a meeting leader, a few tips here and tell you which points you should be aware of:

  • Find out early on: which program is preferred in the company for online meetings? Internal and external (large) online meetings often differ greatly in this respect.
  • Invite a colleague and check all the functions of the program together: How can you mute participants? How do you even see if someone is speaking? Where is the chat located?
  • Create a welcome slide. This should contain the most important functions of the program: for example, where you can mute your microphone or how to raise your hand. You will probably also find this information from the manufacturer of the program.
  • Inform the participants about what you are going to do next: “I’m going to mute all participants now” prevents some confusion.
  • Establish the rules for the online meeting at the beginning. Can questions be asked during the meeting? Or should all questions be saved for the end? Basic points that good IT should enable:
  • Create a list of the collaboration tools that the company uses for online meetings. This includes the company’s own programs as well as other relevant programs that may be used but are not managed by the company itself. Also state which programs are prohibited in the company.
  • Make sure that users have the appropriate rights and do not fail due to minor problems. For example, if a program has a whiteboard function and this is blocked, valuable collaboration is prevented.
  • Define a strategy: Which function is used in which program? Where does critical information go? Is information stored permanently in a program’s messenger or deleted after a certain period of time?
  • Make it easier for users to get started with the programs: Anyone who first has to go through various processes to gain access will be deterred from using it. In addition, users should not have to log in every time.
  • At major events: Do you have spare devices with you? A simple battery replacement can be fine, but it is often easier to switch directly to a functioning device. Also, few supporters like to be in the spotlight during a live troubleshooting case.
  • Bear in mind that online meeting programs can be used on various devices: Laptop, smartphone and tablet. Create guidelines for using the programs on all these devices. These guidelines can then also be used internally, as there will be more networking, not less. It is also a good advertisement for the company if the corporate design is consistent.

My data belongs to me: three times data protection

As a company, you should consider three areas when it comes to data protection:

  1. country-specific data protection
  2. data flows
  3. IT security

To ensure that your data belongs only to you and that no third parties who should not have access to it gain access to it, we will go into the three subject areas in more detail below:

Country-specific data protection

The new Swiss Data Protection Act and the EU GDPR Directive are always an issue at online meetings. Some people only ask about extracting their own data after an event out of self-interest, while others like to put the promises of data protection to the test.

Clarify this beforehand:

  • What data may be recorded? Here we are talking about audio and video recordings. You may read out questions, but it is better not to mention names here.
  • Metadata is generated everywhere and in large numbers: dialed numbers, e-mail addresses, time of log-in and log-out as well as technical information such as browser identification. Clarify with your legal department which actions are necessary.
  • Whether your online meeting tool has a guest mode that makes other participants invisible to each other and prevents them from chatting with each other. This guest mode is very popular for larger events as it reduces distractions and confusion to a minimum.

The contractual situation should also be regulated: Most providers of online meeting programs are international. This means that your data is available to you in many places around the world and also to your subcontractors in the respective countries. Who gains access for legal reasons, such as the police or other third parties, will again vary from country to country. This is where good cooperation between the IT and legal departments is worth its weight in gold.

Data flows

Do you know where your data flows to? For example, can all data in your online meeting program be copied to the chat? If so, please note that data loss prevention (DLP) also needs to take into account which devices are accessing the program. It is best to discuss the communication strategy internally and divide the programs used into intranet, messenger and online meeting solution. Avoid overlaps so that the data is not located in different places.

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About the author
Daniel Brunner
About the author
Daniel Brunner, Senior Security Consultant