Host an Engaging Online Meeting

Host an Engaging
Online Meeting

Though online meetings are common, many of us are seeing their frequency increase dramatically as we practice social distancing and work remotely. Here are four tips to get more out of your online meetings:

1. Be engaging.
Part of what virtual meetings lack is the absence of physical stimulus and cues from other participants. When in a face-to-face meeting, you can feel the energy in a room. With virtual meetings, you must consciously create that energy. Turn your camera on and let people see your face. Pay attention to the tone of your voice and your expressions. Ever notice how radio DJ’s talk? A little animation goes a long way. If others are being quiet and not participating, engage them by name. Ask how they are feeling and for their thoughts. Use the tools at your disposal – white boards (real or virtual) and note-taking platforms are great options.

2. Hold frequent meetings of shorter duration.
It’s tempting to take a four-hour in-person session and convert it to a long virtual session – don’t do it. For people who aren’t used to working virtually, it’s exhausting to stay in-the-moment, present, and engaged. Instead, consider holding four shorter meetings on subsequent days. If you do have to go for more than 50 minutes, take a five-minute break to give people a chance to take care of biological needs. If many of your employees are new to remote work, it’s a good idea to give them space to process while they’re adjusting. Try not to book people back-to-back with other obligations on their calendar – this gives them time to check email, re-prioritize, and re-focus on the next task. Juggling multiple projects from home can start to get confusing if employees don’t have the brain space necessary to prepare pre-meeting and process post-meeting.

3. Save space in your agenda for human interaction.
The isolation of working remotely can amplify the need for the kind of friendly human connection you’d normally get accidentally in hallways or at the water cooler. People are social (even the introverts) and many are facing big changes in their lives right now. Knowing that your participants might need a chance to catch up, release stress, and interact with each other, make sure to save space or create activities that intentionally plan for this. Allowing people to connect will pay dividends in other sections of your agenda.

4. Make small changes in your environment.
Making some small changes to your environment can make a big difference in the quality of connection for people on the other side of the screen. Consider buying a noise-cancelling headset for calls (or using a regular pair of headphones) to improve sound quality for your team members. Rearranging lamps or opening and closing blinds can make a big difference in how well people can see you – try using the “preview” view on your webcam to check visibility and set up your space prior to your call. Finally, be intentional about what’s in the space around you. While some of your personal things may show up in the background, try to strike a good balance between personality and distraction. If you lead with a clean, clear space and sound connection, others on your team will do the same.

5. Be generous with each other.
Many are adjusting to virtual work alongside their spouses, kids, and pets. If any of these things cause a distraction during a virtual call, let your team member know it’s OK. We are human beings, and our personal space is full of things that bark, scream, and make noise. Giving each other grace and understanding when the call gets fuzzy, the ball gets dropped, or a task gets forgotten will be crucial to maintaining team harmony and, ultimately, team productivity.

Is your team adjusting to virtual work? If you’d like to connect with Harrison or our team to learn more about leading your people through change adoption, give us a call at 859-415-1000 or reach out through the form below.

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