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How to manage an effective web conference when there are many stakeholders present

Web conferences are a great way to improve efficiency within your business, saving both time and money, but unless they're managed effectively you won't receive the full benefits they can bring.

This can be especially difficult when there are many stakeholders present. Here are five ways to ensure you can manage a large web conference effectively.

1. Get to know your stakeholders

Before the web conference, take some time to analyse your stakeholders. Each one will bring their own needs and preferences to the table, so getting a clear idea about these will give you a head start. Be careful not to make any assumptions as you do this.

2. Categorise your stakeholders

Some stakeholders will need to play a more active role in the web conference than others. Putting them into appropriate categories before the conference will help you know which stakeholders will influence the project, and which are there purely to stay informed. The following categories will help you do this:

1. Low interest, low influence - these stakeholders are unlikely to play an active role in the meeting, but need to stay informed.

2. High interest, low influence - you will need to involve and consult with these stakeholders.

3. Low interest, high influence - this group of stakeholders are particularly powerful, so you should ensure you engage with them.

4. High interest, high influence - these stakeholders are likely to be the most active. You should collaborate with them and value their input throughout.

3. Know your purpose

You should know exactly what you want to achieve from the web conference before it takes place. If you don't, you'll find it increasingly difficult to manage your stakeholders and stay on track. When you, and the rest of the stakeholders, know what you're there to achieve, it's much easier to bring the discussion back to the relevant points and park any irrelevant discussions for later.

4. Plan how you'll engage and collaborate with stakeholders

Knowing who your stakeholders are, and defining your purpose, is not enough. For the best outcome, you need to plan which tools you will use to engage and collaborate with your stakeholders. How you do this will depend upon the nature of your project, but may include considerations such as:

  • how you will share information and ideas between stakeholders
  • where documents will be stored, and who will be able to access them
  • how the project will be managed, or how tasks will be assigned to individual stakeholders

Organising this before the meeting will ensure appropriate and clear actions can be assigned at the end of the call.

5. Communicate the agenda ahead of the web conference

If you do all of the above but don't communicate it with your stakeholders, it will eat into the time you've allocated for the web conference.

Send the agenda well in advance of the meeting, so all stakeholders know exactly what to expect. This allows them to prepare any contribution or questions before the meeting and also provides a reference point to keep you on track during the call.

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