Don’t worry, it’s not another virtual happy hour! With more virtual events and webinars on our calendars than ever before, keeping people engaged and productive at virtual meetings can be a real challenge in 2020. Without physical proximity, the human connection that keeps teams energized and aligned is more difficult to maintain. Virtual meeting rooms can hinder productivity as the internet glitches and people struggle to find a distraction-free place to work from home. With all the challenges of the remote work environment, learning skills for leading virtual meetings is a high priority.
As simple as they may sound, the following tips can make a huge difference when it comes to leading productive and engaging virtual meetings.
5 Tips to Driving Engagement & Trust in Virtual Meetings
Use Video Chat Frequently
The reason you hear this tip so often is because it’s so important! Research indicates that over 70% of communication is expressed nonverbally, followed by tone of voice (33%) and words (only 7%!) Without video, you are missing more than half of the information that is being communicated at the virtual meeting. Being able to read nonverbal cues allows you to reflect other people’s emotions and shows that you’re listening attentively which in turn can build trust over time. Turning on the camera is the simplest way to keep your team feeling connected to one another to facilitate authentic connection, a core tenet of building trust.
Facilitate Brief Check-Ins
Facilitating personal check-ins is a simple way to demonstrate you care about others which also continues to build trust virtually. While getting individual status updates can be great for building trust and connection, it can also become a drain on productivity and engagement when it goes on for too long. Consider the group size when planning a check-in. If you are managing a large meeting, consider having people check-in using the chatbox. When leading a smaller group, model a time-appropriate share to encourage others to keep it short and sweet. Being mindful of time will give people the opportunity to feel heard without compromising productivity.
Communicate the Goal & the Flow of the Meeting
Without a clear goal, people may be unsure how to contribute and meetings tend to drag on forever. This is especially problematic when people are crunched for time as they juggle multiple roles under one roof (hello homeschooling!) Before your next meeting, get crystal clear on the goal of the meeting. Keep it simple and create an agenda with several action items in alignment with the goal. Share plans with attendees several days prior to the meeting and indicate how they are expected to prepare and participate. When people know how to contribute, they are more likely to engage and achieve better results for the team.
Apply the 5-Minute Rule
According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the golden rules of virtual engagement is giving people the opportunity to participate every 5 minutes. This might sound like a lofty goal, but one research study found that implementing this rule (along with several others) led to meetings where 86% of participants reported levels of engagement as the same or higher than in face-to-face meetings. Simple opportunities for engagement include asking a question in the chatbox, getting input via a poll, doing a round-robin check-in, splitting participants into breakout rooms, playing a game, or sharing thoughts about a question on the agenda.
Bring Positive Energy
When leading virtual meetings, your energy matters! This is especially important in times of stress and uncertainty when people are prone to getting drained. The way you show up to virtual meetings sets the tone for the rest of your team and arriving with positive energy has a ripple effect that strengthens social connections and drives productivity. In order to show up ready to lead others, tap into the power of play. Spend time learning what activities energize you and make them a priority. Avoid overbooking yourself and give yourself short breaks between back-to-back meetings.
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