How to Make Virtual Meetings More Engaging | 18 Online Meeting Hacks
Are virtual meetings a part of your workweek? If so, you’re not alone. Whether it be through Zoom, Teams or other video conferencing platforms, online meetings have become the new normal way to stay connected and on-task for remote teams. Despite these advancements in technology though, people seem to struggle with feeling engaged during virtual sessions – attention drifts away and productivity slips. But why? Why do so many people struggle to stay tuned in when taking part in online meetings? In this blog post, we take an insightful look at the disconnect between attendees and presenters that prevent meaningful connections from forming between them – unlocking exactly what causes people to tune out and how we can build better engagement for more productive interactions during our next remote meeting!
Why people are not engaged during your virtual meetings?
A lot of factors can contribute to people feeling disengaged during a virtual meeting. Here are some of the most common reasons your virtual team is zoning out during meeting time:
No clear meeting agenda
Failing to provide attendees with a clear plan of action prior to the meeting can lead to confusion and disinterest during it. If a presenter doesn’t lay out a clear pathway for what he or she wants to discuss, meeting attendees can easily lose focus. Without an agenda and expected outcome, people won’t know how their contribution is helping to reach that goal.
Could this meeting have been just an email? People may feel like the meeting is a waste of their time if they don’t believe it is absolutely necessary to come together. If there isn’t an obvious point to the gathering, some participants can become easily distracted or tune out entirely – leading to wasted time and less productivity for everyone in attendance.
Lack of interaction
It can be hard to stay engaged in online meetings if there is no interaction between the presenter and those attending. If the presenter fails to ask attendees questions or create an environment conducive to discussion, people are less likely to feel invested in the conversation and more likely to tune out.
A poor connection can cause major disruptions during a virtual meeting no matter what virtual meeting platform you are using. If there is a lag in sound or visuals during your Zoom meeting, it can become difficult for remote meeting participants to concentrate and take everyone’s focus away from the task at hand.
Spending too much time on video can lead to “Zoom fatigue” – an exhaustion that comes from staring at a computer screen for hours. This means people are less likely to be attentive during their virtual sessions and more prone to switching off mentally or leaving early.
Why is it important to make virtual meetings fun?
Virtual meetings don’t have to be a snooze-fest! By taking the time to make virtual gatherings interactive, engaging, and even fun – you can reap some considerable benefits. Here are just a few of them:
When people feel engaged in the conversation, they’re more likely to be productive. When virtual sessions are fun and interactive, people are more likely to stay focused on the task at hand and contribute actively towards the meeting’s outcome.
Making meetings enjoyable can help build stronger relationships between attendees. People feel a connection when they have something in common, so adding lighthearted activities or moments of laughter can help create a sense of camaraderie among those in attendance. Even if meetings are mainly for accomplishing work, it can also be a great avenue for team bonding.
When meeting participants feel invested in the conversation, they’ll be more willing to share ideas and collaborate. This can lead to better problem-solving, improved decision-making, and ultimately – a more effective meeting.
More effective decision-making
Fun meetings can help improve decision-making. People are more likely to come to a consensus when they feel relaxed and engaged – which means decisions can be made quicker and with less friction.
Tips for Making Virtual Conferences More Interactive and Engaging
Here are some useful tips for creating more dynamic virtual meetings. With these strategies, you can ensure your next meeting is high-energy, collaborative, and effective for remote meeting participants:
Invite the right people
Who you invite to the meeting should depend on what is being discussed. Make sure you ask yourself if each meeting attendee will be able to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way and ensure that every attendee has an opportunity to voice an opinion or ask a question.
Plan the agenda with engagement in mind and share it with participants
Before the meeting, create a plan that focuses on engagement. This could include activities like introducing a new topic with an interesting video clip or group discussion. Once you have your agenda items outlined, share it with everyone before the gathering so they can be prepared for what’s ahead and stay focused during the meeting.
Use icebreaker questions to crack open conversation
At the start of the meeting, consider introducing some icebreaker questions that can help meeting attendees get to know each other better. This could be as simple as asking everyone in attendance to answer a question like “What was the best part of your week?” or something more creative.
Other examples of icebreaker activities include:
- Virtual trivia games
- Word association activities
- Company trivia
- Virtual team building games
- Virtual background challenge
Encourage active listening
Active listening is critical for good communication. Encouraging participants to show that they’re engaged by summarizing the main points of a discussion can help move the conversation forward and ensure each participant feels heard. This also provides an opportunity for attendees to clarify any misunderstandings or ask any questions.
Dedicate time to checking in
Most importantly, make sure there is a dedicated time set aside for checking in with each remote meeting participant. This gives everyone an opportunity to connect on a personal level and touches on the importance of building relationships in the virtual space. Checking in can be as simple as taking some time at the beginning or end of the meeting to ask how people are doing or give people a chance to share any successes or challenges they’ve encountered since the last meeting.
Be mindful of online meeting etiquette
It’s important to be aware of and adhere to remote meeting etiquette. This includes using video instead of audio-only if possible, setting the mood with background music or a virtual whiteboard and marker, muting yourself when not speaking, and minimizing distractions like notifications from other applications.
Allow for some downtime
To keep things interesting and prevent people from being inundated with too much information at once, take a break every 15-20 minutes during the meeting. This can be as short as a few seconds of stretching or as long as five minutes to allow remote attendees to regroup and come back feeling refreshed.
Whether it’s through polls, quizzes, or something else – encourage your participants to actively engage with the content by having them take part in activities or respond to questions. This allows everyone to have a voice, building enthusiasm and engagement.
Select the Appropriate Technology
Before the meeting, make sure you’ve selected the right technology for your needs. Do a test run to ensure that everyone is able to connect with minimal trouble and that they can all access any necessary visuals or documents. This will help keep disruptions to a minimum and prevent technical issues from getting in the way of productivity.
Strike a balance between talking and listening
When facilitating a virtual meeting, it’s important to strike a balance between talking and listening. Make sure everyone gets a chance to voice their opinion and provide feedback while also allowing the facilitator time to explain topics in detail or answer questions. This will ensure that all participants feel heard and respected while also keeping the discussion on track.
Make it visual
Including visuals in your virtual meetings can help keep people’s attention on the presentation. Try to use visuals such as infographics, videos, or pictures to illustrate key points and provide a visual representation of what you are discussing.
Add gamification techniques
Gamification is a great way to inject more fun and engagement into your meetings. Try using online tools such as Kahoot! or Quizlet to run virtual trivia games during the meeting and add some friendly competition. This can help keep drive employee engagement while also breaking up the monotony of endless talking points.
Keep it short and to the point
It’s important to be mindful of everyone’s time and attention span, so try to keep virtual meetings concise. This means sticking to the agenda and ensuring that discussion points are brief enough for everyone to stay focused. If there is too much information being shared at once, it can quickly overwhelm participants, making them less likely to engage with the content.
Pay Attention to Physical Cues
It can be difficult to read body language when interacting with people remotely, but you can still pay attention to non-verbal cues like people yawning or shifting in their seats. This can help you determine when people are getting bored and a reminder of the time might be needed. During the meeting, ask participants constantly if they have any questions or need clarification on anything that is being discussed. This will help you gauge their understanding of the topic and ensure everyone is comfortable participating in the discussion.
Quickly send out the meeting notes
Once the meeting is over, it’s important to quickly send out a summary of what was discussed. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and can refer back to the notes anytime they need to review something that was covered in the gathering. The notes should include any action items or decisions that were made as well as links to resources or materials that were shared.
End with a Summary
At the end of each virtual meeting, provide a quick summary to ensure everyone is on the same page before disconnecting. Ask participants to confirm if they have any questions and use. Miscommunication can happen easily in virtual communication, so it’s important to take the time and review what was accomplished before everyone ends their call.
Provide Follow Up Resources
When the meeting is finished, make sure to provide participants with additional resources they can refer back to or use for further exploration of the topics discussed. This might include links to articles, websites, or other documents that can help them further understand the topics covered in your meeting. Providing helpful follow-up resources can also ensure everyone is on track and can easily review any points they need to refresh their memory on.
Collect valuable feedback
Finally, it’s important to collect honest feedback from meeting participants. Ask them what they think of the topics discussed and if there are any areas that could be improved upon. This can help you come up with new ideas for future virtual meetings and ensure everyone is engaged in the conversation. It also shows participants that their opinions and thoughts matter,
In conclusion, the virtual meeting experience can be just as engaging and productive as in-person meetings when the right steps are taken to ensure everyone is prepared and involved. Incorporating activities, visuals, and gamification elements into your meetings will help you keep people engaged while also encouraging active participation from all attendees. By following these tips, you can ensure that your virtual meetings or hybrid meetings are more engaging and effective for everyone involved.
Book a Meeting Room at Mobo Co for Your Next Virtual Meeting
Have a big meeting coming up and you’re not super confident with your virtual meeting set-up at home? Maybe you are having issues with your wifi, or your PC, or you just need a more professional background for your virtual meeting.
Book a meeting room at Mobo Co and ensure that you have everything you need for a successful virtual meeting. Our professional meeting rooms come fully equipped with the latest technology, including high-speed internet access, whiteboards, projectors, and more. Plus, our experienced staff can provide whatever additional support you might need to make sure your virtual meeting runs smoothly.
Available to physical and virtual members alike, our meeting rooms can be hired for workshops, conference calls, client meet-ups and any occasion that you might need more capacity or privacy than your office.
Suggested reading: How to Run an Effective Meeting to Maximise Productivity