By Katy Williams on October 21, 2020

What to Look for When Choosing an Online Meeting Management Solution

Features to meet your needs

 

Now that your organization has decided to look for an online meeting management solution, do you know where to start? There are many available solutions, with varying levels of features, ecosystems, and associated costs.

 

Before you begin your search, it’s most important for you to assess exactly what your organization needs. Some solutions come with all the bells and whistles — and the price tag that comes with it. The goal is to find the best alternative that will suit your needs. What do you need to accomplish? What is essential? What is nice to have? What is completely unnecessary?

 

Today, we’re focusing on the features that are essential to a meeting management solution for the average organization. This will not cover every single possible feature, and it will not cover every single organization. However, my goal is to give a reasonable idea of what other organizations find important, and why. My hope is that this will help as you begin the journey to finding an online meeting management solution that will be a good fit for your organization.

 

Let’s start with the essentials for clients looking to hold re-occurring meetings, such as board meetings. This kind of meeting usually has several important requirements:

 

1.  Easy-to-use meeting set-up for the meeting administrator

2. Easy-to-use for meeting attendees

3. Voting functionality

 

Each of these requirements has their own detailed set of specifications, but if you’re looking for a new way to run your board meetings, allowing members to participate in-person or remotely, then each of these needs is probably on the top of your requirements list. Let’s explore these must-have features more in-depth.

 

Easy-to-use meeting set-up for the meeting administrator

 

In most cases, the person responsible for setting up and running the meeting has other responsibilities. It’s important that there is a low learning curve to setting up and making changes to a meeting. A few features for the easy-to-use category include:

  • Clone previous meetings. Most likely, re-occurring meetings have a very similar format. If the meeting administrator can simply clone a previous meeting, this will save a lot of time and effort.
  • Add or change motions quickly during the meeting. As we all know, a meeting can change by the minute. It’s important to be able to adjust on the fly, and for the agenda in the meeting management solution to be flexible and easy to change as well.
  • Easily import the participant list and create the login information. You can’t run a meeting without participants! But no one wants to manually enter each person for each meeting. You’ll want to look for a few different features — mass participant upload ability, the ability to add individual participants on the fly, and the ability for participants to sign up on their own, with the meeting administrator being able to review and approve participants.
  • Establish a quorum. Some organizations are required to establish a minimum number of members attending each meeting, or voting on an agenda item. If this is important for your organization, you will want to ensure you can easily establish a quorum through the meeting management solution.
  • Meeting notes export. It’s pretty common to send post-meeting notes to attendees. You will want to make sure the meeting administrator is able to easily export meeting notes from the meeting management solution — even if it is simply the agenda item, who attended, the documents attached to it, and the vote results.
  • Streaming video. Even if you are meeting remotely, it’s important to keep meetings relational. Including all participants on a video stream, as well as being able to display a presentation or document, is a big step in that direction. Look at how easy it is to integrate your video meeting software with the meeting management software as you review solution providers.

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Easy-to-use for meeting attendees

 

It’s equally important for your meeting management solution to be user-friendly for meeting attendees. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, everyone has had new programs, systems, and routines — few people will get excited about learning to use a new tool. Some essential features that make a meeting management solution user-friendly for attendees are:

  • Easy login and authentication. It is a careful balance to ensure the person logging into a meeting is the actual, approved person. But if your meeting participants find the login process difficult, they will not want to use the new tool. You’ll want to look for a tool that allows for several different login and authentication options so you can choose what is right for your attendees’ level of comfort with technology.
  • Compatibility with all device-types. It goes without saying that today’s technology is evolving more every day. To make meeting attendance as easy as possible, you will want to make sure that your attendees can fully participate whether they are on their phone, tablet, or computer.
  • Document library. One area people struggle with is having access to the same documents you might have in an in-person meeting. Your meeting management solution should allow you to upload relevant documents and attach them to the relevant agenda items. This ensures your participants will have full access to the information they need in order to debate and vote.

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Speaking of voting…Reliable, secure, and easy voting is absolutely essential to review when finding your meeting management solution.

 

It seems like an easy function, and many organizations consider using survey tools or other free tools available online. This decision fully depends on your organization’s needs — the level of security, accountability, and auditability you need, are among some considerations. Stay tuned for a future article on when to use a voting tool verse a survey tool! Once you’ve made the decision to choose a meeting management tool with voting, here are a few features to look for:

  • Online / remote voting. Of course, if you are running your meetings remotely, your attendees need to be able to vote remotely. You will want to make sure that your meeting management solution will allow for attendees to vote online, from wherever they are attending the meeting.
  • Private or public votes. Some organizations require that votes are kept secret, while others require the votes to be a matter of public record. Your meeting management solution should allow for either kind of voting, allowing you to fulfil your requirements.
  • Proxy voting. Sometimes members aren’t able to attend the meeting — do you allow them to choose another member to cast their vote for them? If yes, then you’ll want to ensure that this is an available feature.
  • Weighted voting. Some organizations give different members different vote weights. This is usually more of an issue for shareholder or similar types of meetings. If this is necessary for your organization, it’s important that it is easy for the meeting administrator to assign the correct vote weight to the right person.
  • Immediate results for each agenda item. When you have a voting tool that automatically incorporates all of these different kinds of votes and requirements, it’s a simple task to have an immediate tally of the results. Once everyone has voted, you can share the results for each agenda item before moving to the next one.

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I hope this has been helpful and has given some direction on what many consider the essentials when looking for a meeting management solution. The real starting point for you in your search is knowing your organization’s needs and requirements. That will lay the foundation for your search and help you decide on your choice solution. Good luck in your search, and with your future remote meetings!

 


Related Resources: Download the infographic here 

 

 

 
Published by Katy Williams October 21, 2020

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