Moving Meetings Online: A How to Guide to Leverage this Lockdown

Whether you find yourself locked down, quarantined, or working closely with someone who can’t be physically close to you for whatever reason (it’s a global world we live in, after all), it isn’t always possible to meet in person. And though great things are often brought into the world over a coffee or beer, handshake or candid chat with a conference panelist, the same can happen online.


And in certain cases, moving a meeting online can actually be better than hosting / attending / facilitating a chat or event IRL.

Here at the Canberra Innovation Network, we’ve learned how to adapt along with the rest of you. Our monthly get together, First Wednesday Connect, has offered entrepreneurs, investors, ideators and researchers the chance to mingle and collaborate here in the capital for years; in an abundance of caution, though, we held many of 2020’s and now some Delta-variant 2021 FWCs online. Has it changed the mood of the night? Only slightly – more folks attend in their yoga pants, for example. But we’re able to deliver the same exciting pitches and opportunities to cross-chat with peers as we do on Moore Street.

So, with myriad options, from Zoom to Teams, Remo to Skype and more, it’s important to find the right forum for your next meeting or event. Let us save you from focussing on your MySpace Top 8 Friends list and direct you to the proper platform for your upcoming online experience.

(noun, verb: The go-to video conference tool for external parties, and subject of accurate Skype takedown sketch on Saturday Night Live)

Whether you’re hosting a trivia night, Canberra-New York-London-Hong Kong conference call, or meeting with freelancers + contractors + in-house teams, Zoom’s become the international default. We’ve all learned how to change our backgrounds, and yet each Zoom begins with “I think you’re on mute”. Sigh.

Should you be in need of a platform for disparate parties, Z’s the place to be. And even if your meeting isn’t being held on Zoom, it’s about time you hone your skills. The more ubiquitous the Z becomes, the more embarrassing it is when you get it wrong. According to CBRIN’s PR and Comms person, Joshua Crouthamel, “People who still struggle with the basics of Zoom after 18 months of living in a pandemic world are … problematic. My 67-year-old mother, who has never held an office job, lets me know when my camera angle isn’t flattering. Know yourself.”

(noun: The video conference platform that most feels like attending an IRL conference … or the wedding of an acquaintence) 

Remo is pretty sweet, especially if you have a pre-pandemic event plan in your mind and the latest lockdown has kiboshed hours of work, countless spreadsheets and returned a security deposit.

The idea behind Remo is to replicate the IRL experience right down to seating – as opposed to Zoom, where every face takes up a tile on a massive grid, Remo assigns guests / attendees to designated tables. As a host you can ensure certain folks are ‘seated’ together at particular tables, facilitate conversations between certain parties, design localised experiences by way of media and collaborators, and change everything up with a click.

CBRIN mentor and facilitator Irene Zhen says “Remo is great for interactive workshops – participants can choose where they want to sit!” And who can say that about Brenda’s wedding, when you were sat at the back with the degenerates and weren’t offered so much as a plus one? We digress …

(noun: The online meeting solution brought to you by the folks who invented the talking paper clip)

Teams is awesome for meetings with people who all share the same @email.address. If you’re all on the same playing field, Teams allows you to schedule, chat, share files and chase each other around a virtual office as if it were the communal kettle in a more in-person office environment.

Irene says that Teams is “Super easy to work with scheduling, but sometimes people are forced to download the app.” She’s talking about externals, and internals who are dialling in from the road. So choose Teams when you know you’re planning a chat with colleagues who are all on their work laptops, regardless of their location.

Etiquette & Suggestions

Wherever you “meet”, you must adhere to a few simple rules. Just as you wouldn’t show up to a conference dressed inappropriately, you shouldn’t Zoom in (or TeamRemoConnect, etc.) with a jackhammer going full steam outside your open window, or present in front of your bookshelf if your bookshelf is populated with private items as opposed to “Coding for Dummies” tomes. Events, marketing and web guru Britt Nichols and Irene share some of their best tips for seamless cyber salons.

  • Mute when not speaking. MUTE WHEN NOT SPEAKING! You should know this by now.
  • Staring at an image of yourself for hours at a time can pose a real challenge when it comes to focus and attention. Luckily, a lot of these platforms have a ‘hide self view’ option, which helps you be less self-conscious and more present in any conversation
  • A good online meeting ends on time. You might find it rude to interrupt someone in order to wrap up a call, but it’s much more rude to eat into the time of someone’s day.
  • When booking a meeting with someone outside of your team, think about the barrier of entry for the call. Do they need an account to access? Do they need to download an app in order to participate? If you have multiple options, perhaps ask your attendees which platform they prefer to use.
  • Practice. You might like to host your COVID meetings from your bed (hair done, top styled), but if the lighting is off your colleagues will be distracted. You don’t need to invest in a Ring Light – just ensure the lamp is on, your mic is working and you have a private space from which to participate / facilitate.