13 Ways to Improve Virtual Meetings
If nothing else, the pandemic that started in 2020 introduced us to an historical digital experience that has changed business communication. And with it the introduction of endless virtual meetings.
The virtual and in-place communication trend is predicted to be the beginning of new era of standard communication revolution. Safe to say, they are here to stay.
One of the biggest challenges is managing all those virtual meetings. How do you keep participants engaged and interested meeting after meeting?
It’s certainly a challenge for leaders, and takes additional strategies that you may not use in face-to-face or more traditional meetings.
Even though we've been doing this for awhile -- there are ways you can do them better! Here are some great tips you can use to become a better virtual meeting facilitator. This will improve keeping participants focused and engaged. It will also keep your team from getting Zoom fatigue and/or falling asleep.
Here are 13 easy ways to improve facilitation of your virtual meetings:
Connect Before Content
1. Start Early
Try having an unofficial start. Be there 5-10 minutes early and create immediate engagement before the official start time. Use is as a time to check in and reward those who show up early.
2. Ask a Question
Start off with a poll or question in the chat. Get people interacting immediately. This creates energy and sets the tone for an energized meeting. Some questions you can ask include:
- What's going well with you today?
- What's the one thing you are looking forward to today?
- What's been the favorite part of your day so far?
3. Fill in the Blanks
Conduct a round robin exercise. Ask each person to fill in a blank in the chat The new branding colors are…..;The best idea from the last meeting was...; My favorite morning beverage is...
Have a Plan
4. Set Expectations
Tell attendees how the meeting will flow, when cameras and mics should be on, etc. Ask attendees to minimize distractions by shutting off notifications, and review expectations before each meeting.
5. Meet with Purpose
Meet for a purpose instead of meeting for time. State the meeting purpose and objectives up front. End the meeting when that has been completed. Don’t fill the time up because it’s on everyone’s calendar. Give back the gift of time away from the computer whenever possible.
Don't Let Things Lag
6. Keep Things Moving
Change activities every 20-25 minutes to avoid boredom. A virtual setting gets old really quick, so stay away from long lectures and boring slides.
7. Sprinkle with Humor
Add cartoons or jokes during the meeting. Keeping it light and adding humor will quickly re-capture attention and engage your audience. Try asking a riddle or answer to a joke in the chat as you are getting started.
8. Use Emojis
Have some fun. Ask participants to use emojis, or add gifs in the chat.
9. Switch up Your Tone of Voice
Get louder and then slightly softer. Any change in your voice will stimulate attention.
10. Get to the Point
Use short simple sentences. There is little tolerance for verbosity on the screen and our brains turn off when hear “lecture mode”. Use stories as much as possible to create a natural feel and flow.
11. Use Participant Interviews
Ask a meeting participant to interview a teammate instead of giving the usual update report.
12. Ask for Input
Call on participants but don’t let them know when it’s their turn. Rotate people and make this the norm so people don’t feel put on the spot.
13. End on Time - or Early
Honor people's time and about 10 min before the ending time - end the meeting. Review where you are, what assignments have been made and what happens next.
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.
You can schedule a free 30 minute consultation with Betty here.