Engaging Your Team During Virtual Meetings
Online meetings give us an opportunity to one up in-person meetings by employing creativity and a little planning. Here are ways to add energy, connection, motivation and bring renewed clarity and effectiveness to your virtual meeting game.
Meetings have notoriously been the bane of office life. Too many hours spent in conference rooms, wondering why our presence was needed, has left us all too jaded to radiate joy at the thought of accepting another meeting invite. With the proverbial bar set very low, online meetings give us a renewed opportunity to step up in-person meetings by employing some forethought, creativity, and a little planning. Take note of the following ways to add energy, motivation and bring renewed clarity and effectiveness to your virtual meeting game.
Using Video Chat
For remote meeting experiences, voice-only online meetings leave a lot to be desired. If you want to build a stronger relationship with your team, and improve the online experience, opt to utilize a platform where the meeting organizer and other employees can see each other. Without video we can miss out on so many visual cues and nuances when chatting only by voice or text.
There will be a least one participant who will be silhouetted by an overly bright background (think window) or will have their camera set too low so that everyone else on the call is looking up their nose. Why not do yourself and your team a favor by sending out a friendly note that touches on basic tips to set up for virtual meetings? Information that is obvious to someone, may be new news to another. Attaching a brief explanation on the do’s and don’ts of achieving proper camera lighting, camera angles, optimal backgrounds, eliminating ambient noise, etc., will help ensure that everyone on your meeting call looks and sounds their best.
Optimize Screen Sharing
Online meetings were gaining momentum before the Pandemic struck. Now, remote meeting has become an essential for most businesses. Conversely, the ability to share your screen, or optimize a meeting session using screen-sharing has become one of the most valuable features in online meeting software since it allows people to easily go over important documents together.
Encourage Text Chat
Have you been in a meeting and wanted to speak up, but someone else was talking at the time? Encouraging your team to make good use of the chat box during these moments can be a great solution. The chat box allows someone to jot down their concerns or an idea so that the speaker can see and respond without disrupting the meeting flow.
Fill the Visual Void by Using Everyone’s Environment
We’ve all seen countless blank backgrounds behind our colleagues in our virtual meetings. And while the setting may be functional, and the blandness certainly won’t create any distractions, you may be setting the tone for a monotonous meeting. Be intentional about using your participant’s environments to set the tone. Prior to the meeting, invite people to choose an interesting, meaningful, or beautiful spot in their space to point their camera at. This touch of humanity can do a lot to help add warmth and create a vibrancy to your meeting space.
Have a Designated Host who can Patrol the Meeting
“Whether the gathering is four people or 4,000, know who’s in charge. A good host is a deft traffic cop, especially for online gatherings that are clunkier by nature,” says Deanna deBara, author of The Art of Gathering. “A good host orients their guests to the gathering’s purpose, and connects, protects and equalizes the guests. Be strong where you need to be, but chill in unexpected ways.” We’ve all been subject to meetings that were sidelined by extraneous topics and conversations. Keeping one person on task with hosting and moderating the discussion can help maintain a balanced meeting that moves forward.
Connect with your team before or after your meeting. “Today we can share things with each other instantly that previous generations couldn’t have imagined,” says deBara. Send a relevant episode of a podcast for guests to listen to ahead of the call. Share a relevant article, video, and a specific agenda that orients people to the new purpose of the gathering. To show your appreciation and to impart a personal note deBara also suggests sending a digital gift that arrives at the end of your digital gathering. “It could be an app that’s related to your gathering’s purpose, a digital subscription, or even a screenshot of the gathering that just occurred,” says deBara.
Create an Opening Ritual
“A consistent opening ritual connects people and establishes who’s in the room and their relevance to the meeting, shares deBara. “Don’t just ‘get straight to business.’ Invite people to bring a beverage in a favorite mug (or time-zone appropriate vessel) and open the meeting by asking them to show the mug (this helps create a common shared moment across distance), and then answer (in one sentence or less) a relevant opening prompt that informs the discussion and shows their own relevance to it.”
On my own desk are keepsakes that are significant in meaning or sentimentality. deBara encourages meeting guests to share a, physical object they keep in their workspace, and why it matters to them. “You will get insights into your colleagues that can explain what they care about, how they make decisions and other parts of their histories.,” she says and notes, “of course the designated host should keep this moving along.” In a time where people are feeling very much disconnected, using even simple exercises like this can help create more community.
Bringing intentionality to your online meetings will only help to improve the level of participation and overall effectiveness. Employing these techniques can start you in the direction of connecting well with your team and moving your ministry forward in a difficult season.
Top Remote Meeting Tools
Zoom: You can hold your meetings with quality video, clear audio and instant screen sharing.
Cisco Webex: Promotes integrated audio, video and content sharing with a lifelike video experience.
GoToMeeting: Has the advantage of HD video conferencing and screen-sharing and gives attendees options on ways to join.
StartMeeting: Gives you the ability to host HD audio online meetings or conferences with screen-sharing, video conferencing, international services, customizations, co-branding, and other features.