virtual meetings

Virtual Meetings: 5 Ways to Create Engagement

The past year has brought us many things – a greater sense of community and neighborly awareness, distanced picnics and exercising, an increase in video calls in the older generations and my favorite… the Tiger King on Netflix!

We’ve seen numerous changes in the way we work; the vast majority of us are working from home for the first time and for many of us, this will be a permanent change. Organizations have realized that there are countless benefits of going virtual too.

One of those benefits comes in the form of Virtual Meetings – these help businesses to save time and create efficiency, reduce cost of travel and overnight stays and by reducing travel Virtual Meetings are kinder to the planet. It also connects us with more people around the globe than ever before.

Whether you’re using MS Teams, Zoom or GoToMeeting, I’m sure that we can all agree that we’ve been faced with challenges transitioning to Virtual Meetings. 
Having worked virtually for over 5 years in education and L&D, I’d love to share with you some tips and tricks for creating engagement in your virtual meetings.

1. Virtual Icebreakers

Let’s think about it… if we met someone face to face, would we head straight into our sales pitch or agenda? No! It’s really fun to start a meeting off with a Virtual Icebreaker and it builds the foundations for great relationships, especially if you are meeting with a new client for the first time.

An icebreaker whether virtual or in person helps relax your participants and eases everyone into the group meeting or learning situation, ready to engage. You can pretty much do any traditional icebreaker in the virtual environment, so get creative.

Idea: Virtual Background Challenge

Have a laugh and ask everyone to pick a virtual background image that represents who they are. You could give them a theme (like Harry Potter) or an amazing place they’ve visited and ask your participants to elaborate on the reason they have chosen their background.

2. Questions

This may seem like a really simple step to engage participants in your meetings, but we have built a whole method on How to Facilitate Virtual Conversations through questioning.

We’ve all been there whether in a product demo, sales pitch or team meeting. We put a question to the group and we receive that tumble weed moment… at VTT, we think we’ve cracked the code to asking questions and how to get everyone engaged in our 1-2-3-4 step process.

A key thing to remember is when we do ask our attendees to collaborate or participate in a meeting, we make sure they understand our expectations around participation. If we ask a question to our group, we need to make sure it is clear how we want to them to answer. This could be put an emoji in the chat box, use the raise hand feature in MS Teams or Zoom or if we are in a small group, to simply speak up. Emojis are one of my favorite ways to kick start a meeting and get a feel for how everyone is doing today – it’s also super fun for your participants.

3. Show your faces!!!

I am going to keep this one brief, as I know we’ve all heard it before – but in order to have engaging virtual meetings we need to see faces! No-one would turn up to a meeting with a paper bag over their head or hiding their face… so make sure that everyone knows that they should have their cameras on for the meeting. 
One of the key reasons we often feel uncomfortable with turning cameras on is because we are working from our home and there are a range of distractions – comfort your team by letting them know that you are understanding, and that home-life is hectic - it is okay if we see Winston the boxer dog drooling in the background or that they may need to pop off if the doorbell rings.

4. Death by PowerPoint

We all know it too well – death by PowerPoint is the slide after slide after slide of mind-numbing data organized in endless bullet points. If you need to use a PowerPoint presentation for your meeting keep it short so you can keep it sweet!

Of course, don’t get rid of the damn thing. Have your PowerPoint to show stats or pictures which will aid the points you want to make, but don’t rely on it… 
Try this; when you build your PowerPoint, build a Word document at the same time. When you come to edit your slides, remove everything but your key words and images, and paste them into your Word document. This way you’ll create yourself a document with your bullet points and dialog, and a minimalistic but powerful PowerPoint, to assist the important goals of your meeting.

5. Virtual brainstorming, voting, feedback, and energizers

If we are collaborating on an idea or we’ve organized a virtual meeting to overcome a challenge, we can replicate the things we used to do face to face. The technology is ever evolving and there are some really great features in our platforms and apps that we can use to get everyone involved.

You can use the annotate feature in Zoom and get everyone involved in a good old brainstorm. In MS Teams you can even set up-polls to get engage with your participants or gather feedback from your meeting. Here at VTT, we like to use various apps to help gamify our virtual meetings and training sessions. Kahoot is one of our favorites as this allows us to set up a quiz and the team to complete against each other to be ‘the top dog’.  We also really like Mural and all it has to offer. I’ve attached links to both platforms for you to check out:

Kahoot – A great way to create a quiz and have your team compete to win!
MURAL – Allows teams to collaborate in a single workspace and build frameworks and workflows

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