The pandemic has caused a prolonged break for in-person meetings between co-workers, suppliers, clients, stakeholders and major key players in the workforce. As a result, the majority of our business meetings are now conducted via virtual meeting.
In this day and age, online meetings have become the norm in our daily professional lives. It may still be a foreign concept to many of us, which is why it’ll take a great deal of time to not only learn the system but master it.
If you’ve ever conducted a virtual meeting that lacked engagement from your peers - fret not, we’ve got you covered with a number of tips to turn the table around!
7 tips to running great virtual meetings
- Don’t set too many meetings in a day
- Start the meeting with an icebreaker
- Determine who needs to be involved in the meeting
- Set the right rules
- Make sure your slides are effective
- Use breakout sessions
- Don’t overrun your meeting
1. Don’t set too many meetings in a day
If this is your fifth virtual meeting of the day, you can definitely expect a drop in participation from your peers. Even virtual meetings can be exhausting.
They may simply be present for the sake of being present, in which case they will only turn on their mics to say "Thank you" at the end of the meeting. To combat this, ensure that a meeting is absolutely necessary before you run it.
If your meeting has an important objective and purpose that cannot be communicated in any other way, be certain that everyone involved in the meeting understands that too. You can accomplish this by highlighting the meeting's objectives a day before the event.
2. Start the meeting with an icebreaker
We all dread icebreakers from time to time, but they may serve as an effective way to strengthen interpersonal relationships among team members. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy social activity, keep it simple! Simply asking each person how they’re doing is more than enough.
Getting your participants to turn on their mics to speak before diving into the meat of the meeting is a great way to encourage your participants to engage and contribute to the discussion.
3. Determine who needs to be involved in the meeting
Attendees should be limited to key individuals that you want to hear from. There’s no need to invite the entire department or company to the meeting if there are individuals who won’t have an active role in the discussion.
If you're inviting everyone to the meeting just to “keep them informed”, consider sending an email to everyone after each meeting that summarises the key points of the discussion. This will keep everyone up to date without requiring everyone to attend the meeting.
4.Set the right rules
Guidelines are an important part of virtual meetings because they shape everyone's behaviour and pave the way to virtual etiquettes. Some effective ground rules includes:
- Arriving to the meeting early to establish a stable wifi connection
- Put everyone’s mic on mute when an individual is speaking
- Ask the speaker questions at the end of the presentation
- Switch off other tabs during the meeting
5. Make sure your slides are effective
Lay out your presentation slides in a clean, simplistic, and minimalist format. Otherwise, it may become distracting and overwhelming for the attendees, resulting in them not fully grasping the essence of your content.
To keep your attendees engaged with the content rather than the layout, use bullet points, easy-to-read statistics, and eye-catching visuals as needed.
Most importantly, put some thought into how you choose to present. Directly reading from your slides is a surefire way to turn off their engagement buttons, so verbally add new relevant points that support your content along the way.
6. Use breakout sessions
This strategy works wonders for long meetings, and is especially useful if the goal of the meeting was to get everyone to share. Make a suggestion for a topic of discussion and allow your audience to think about it before breaking them up into smaller groups.
You can effortlessly do this by using Zoom's Breakout rooms feature to allow team members to share their thoughts and brainstorm solutions. You could also assign a facilitator in each small group to ensure that each team discussion is going according to plan.
7. Don’t overrun your meeting
A meeting that lasts more than an hour usually results in a decrease in focus and engagement from participants, as they may begin to zone out or lose track. Keep your meetings on schedule to keep your attendees' attention.
A meeting should begin with the most important items and work its way down to the least important. If you’re not the only person who needs to present during the meeting, make it known to everyone who are the individuals that will be in charge of covering specific topics. This way, every participant understands what needs to be covered.
The key to running great virtual meetings all comes down to making the meeting interactive, engaging and informative. For more insight on how to effectively operate in a remote work setting, check out more content here