Almost all of us hate meetings, and they’ve only gotten worse since we’ve all gone remote. and Zoom have become the new, imperfect norm, and too few of us have bothered to adapt to the medium and make conferences more effective.

We have a very strong position about wasting time at MBM Marketing – our own and our clients’. That takes clear, concise communication, professionalism, and sticking to one of our corporate maxims – everyone who needs to know, does.

So with our current dependence on online meetings, we agreed upon five “Virtual Meeting Musts.” I hope they’ll be of value to you personally. And you may want to send a copy to that person whose meetings always drive you up the wall – just a thought.

Be a gracious host. First think about the people in the “room.” Introduce yourself and briefly state the goal of the meeting. If some are new to the group, introduce them, and ask the other participants by name for their names and responsibilities. If someone will have the floor for much of the meeting, say whom and why.

Then lead, for God’s sake. Be sure to state your objective, of course. And this may sound a little like Parliamentary Procedure, but your meeting will be doomed if people talk over one another. Require that people mute themselves unless recognized, and agree upon some signal like a raised hand or a ‘chat’ note that they have something to say.

Agenda before; results after. Don’t you hate walking into a meeting “cold”? You’re not alone, so send out an agenda a day or two in advance, and a quick summary of decisions and results the day after.

Accommodate late arrivers. Yeah, it’s a pain when people aren’t on time – but it’s gonna happen. So be prepared to start some small talk, and let people know that the meeting doesn’t officially start until everyone’s present.

Surprise everyone – finish early. One way to measure your success with the steps above is to be crisp, purposeful and decisive – and to conclude the meeting early. Or, if nothing else, on time. There’s a special corner in hell for meeting moderators who make people late for the next meeting.

Really good leaders knew most of those tips in the old days when we all sat in one room. If that’s you, congratulations. But remember how different an online meeting is from face-to-face and be prepared to make yours successful.