Some people love a meeting, don’t they? You know the type. Ask them to list their achievements for the week, and they’ll include lists of all the meetings they had.
But for most people, meetings inform the work that needs to be done, they’re not a substitute for doing it.
In these times of disrupted or remote work, where meetings are usually booked in advance and held online, it makes sense to keep your virtual meetings as concise and effective as possible.
Here are a few tips for maximising engagement in virtual meetings.
1. Ask yourself: Do we need a meeting?
Why do we hold meetings in general? Typically, we meet to:
- share information
- influence others
- solve problems
- make decisions
- strengthen relationships.
If you’re just meeting to share information, put it in an email or a message. Job done. Unless it’s sensitive information you’re sharing, you probably don’t really need a meeting — even a virtual one. Your colleagues will respect you for not wasting their time.
The other four meeting types generally lead to actions and outcomes. If your purpose is one of those, you probably do need a meeting.
2. Get on top of the tech
There’s nothing worse than waiting for the convenor of a meeting to show up.
Get onto the call a couple of minutes early so you can test your setup and ensure your microphone and internet connection are working. For important meetings, if video is key, avoid Wifi and plug directly into your modem, or have a back-up such as your mobile internet connection handy.
Familiarise yourself with your virtual meeting platform features before the video conference — such as how to mute and unmute your microphone, where to turn video off and on, how to share your screen and where to open a chat.
3. Make a connection
Open the meeting by making your audience feel a connection with the problem you’re attempting to solve.
Share a customer story, something you experienced, some provocative statistics — or think of an analogy that dramatises the issue.
Whatever the problem, if you can’t make your colleagues agree it’s a problem, they’re not going to be terribly interested or excited about helping to solve it.
4. Set expectations (No passengers)
Whether you explain your agenda in the actual meeting, or send it out ahead of time, set expectations not only for what you need from the meeting, but how you expect people to participate.
Set expectations before the meeting: why are people here, and what will they be expected to do? No passengers.
5. Build in participation
Participation is the secret to keeping your team engaged in virtual meetings, where there are fewer physical cues to stimulate attendees to participate. Your boss can’t turn her head and give ‘the look’ to an online participant to prod them into action — it’s just not the same.
Give people tasks that they can actively engage in so there is nowhere to hide. Ask them to come with some ideas, vote for an outcome, brainstorm ideas on a virtual whiteboard, or even break into small teams in separate online chats to work on a problem for a few minutes, and return to the meeting with some suggestions.
6. Keep to time
Spend a dedicated (short) amount of time on each problem you’re looking to solve. When time’s up, either move onto the next point or adjourn it to another forum.
Your team will come to understand they need to focus during the meeting and be productive in order to make it worthwhile.
7. Make it count
After the meeting, don’t forget to send around the action items that came out of it, and how they’ll be followed up.
Your team will come to understand that your virtual meetings serve a purpose, require engagement and participation, and lead to something worthwhile, instead of just filling up their work day.
Redback offers real-time video conferencing on any video enabled device, built on the world-class Polycom Video infrastructure for the highest quality user experience.
Reach out to a sales representative if we can help ensure your next video meeting runs smoothly.