There is an endless array of benefits that your organization can get with virtual meetings and online conferences. They eliminate the need to travel to a specific venue and you won’t have to worry about weather causing delays, etc. But there is also one major challenge that organizational leaders face: how to make virtual meetings more interactive.
The traditional picture of a business meeting has earned its label as boring and disengaging. But it does not have to be the case when it comes to your virtual meetings; in fact, focusing on increasing engagement and making your meetings interactive is even more important when you hold it virtually.
How to Make Virtual Meetings More Interactive
In an ideal world, in-person meetings allow everyone to communicate and interact effectively. Agendas are thoroughly discussed, everyone can participate in the brainstorming, and meetings can be short, straight to the point, and concise. However, the world is far from ideal now, and the “new normal” of work-from-home setup and virtual meetings comes with its inherent problems, such as at-home distractions, attention span issues, and boredom.
Furthermore, screen fatigue is another issue. When people work all day on their computers and see their next activity is a scheduled virtual meeting that they know could last for hours, it is easy to lose enthusiasm and interest to participate actively.
Follow these tips on how to make virtual meetings more interactive.
Have an agenda and share it in advance
Gathering people for a remote meeting takes a lot of effort, especially for teams with members from different time zones. Thus, it is imperative not to waste anyone’s time during the meeting. Plan everything, especially the agenda and subjects to cover, and try to stick to it.
More importantly, make sure you share the agenda before the scheduled remote meeting. This way, people can anticipate what the meeting is about and formulate their inputs better before sharing it with the whole team. The team can also prepare their questions beforehand.
Fix your meeting culture
Virtual conference technology platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom merely intensify what’s already wrong with your team’s meeting culture. A good and productive meeting requires more than just a room full of people. You need a well-thought-out agenda, a leader, goals based on what you want to accomplish, and a timeframe.
More importantly, you need to be strategic about whom to include in your meetings. It’s easier to focus on important issues when you have fewer people on a call. The more people involved in your virtual meeting, the faster the quality slides downhill. Normally, there are only two or three people who dominate the conversation, while the others sit on mute, sneakily browsing through the internet. If this is the case, you’re pretty much just hosting a webinar.
Indeed, it is important to keep everyone connected while working remotely. But simply forcing people to sit down in front of their computer just to fill the screen with faces is often more counterproductive. They will feel their time is being wasted and that they could be doing something productive and useful.
Start with some icebreakers
Make sure you start the remote meeting off on the right foot with an icebreaker. This could be anything, from random questions, goals your team has successfully accomplished, upcoming weekend plans, etc. It doesn’t have to be related to work either, like last night’s football game, the latest silly Tiktok challenge, etc.
You can also use this opportunity to congratulate someone from your team when they accomplish things outside of their work, such as winning a Jiu-Jitsu tournament. These short talks can help people feel comfortable and engaged, especially if they hardly know each other.
Introduce everyone in the virtual meeting
While video cameras show faces, they don’t really present the person behind the image. Also, some don’t even show every speaker throughout the meeting. Some video conferencing software only shows a picture or an icon involved in the meeting. Thus, it’s always a good practice to introduce everyone in attendance. People are more comfortable talking when they know who the other participants are.
You can introduce members of your team and share their roles in the team. Obviously, if you have a long list of attendees, this may seem impractical. However, if some people feel their role in the meeting is less important than others, they will be less likely to engage in the conversation.
Always be courteous to everyone
Make sure you avoid background distractions and encourage everyone to do so. Try to stay on the topic. This is why it is important to have an agenda ready and sent out to every attendee before the actual meeting.
It also pays to remind people about the meeting goal. Many companies use virtual collaboration whiteboards where everyone can easily add their inputs.
Add game elements
A little gamification can go a long way.
Game-like elements are fun and engaging. It’s also a good way to change things up from an otherwise straightforward and linear meeting.
You can have some sort of quiz where you can give out points with corresponding prizes or rewards afterwards. You can also pair your meeting participants into teams for some challenges or tasks. The key here is to foster collaboration, teamwork, and engagement during your virtual meetings. More importantly, this will make people feel good about the virtual meeting, so they will not dread the idea of video calls and remote meetings in the future.
Ask for feedback
Ask your team members for input that can help you improve your meetings in the future. Allow them to share their opinions once the meeting is over. This doesn’t have to be on the spot, as some may feel awkward sharing their criticism in front of you or other members of the team. You can direct message individuals for this.
By taking their opinions and experiences into account, you will make them feel that you value their inputs and prompt them to participate and contribute to future remote meetings.
Indeed, work from home setups have made communication a lot more challenging. However, it’s the new normal, and if you want this new normal to work for you and your team, then you need to adapt and keep your workflow in the right direction.
Want help running your virtual meeting?
If you need help setting up, running, or executing the perfect virtual meeting, Beyfilmz Media is here to help. From here we have two options:
1) Live Streaming Services for your virtual meeting. This could be for presentations or virtual conferences. This is for anyone who wants to give over the reigns and have the job done right.
2) Virtual Meeting Consultations: for anyone who needs help running their own virtual meeting. If you have questions or have run into trouble along the way, David is here to help you one on one with your specific video needs.