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How to Run an Effective Virtual Meeting

man in front of multiple screens
by Jess Snader on December 14, 2020

Wondering how to keep your audience engaged during virtual meetings? While virtual meetings aren't ideal, they don't have to be lifeless. We've outlined 5 ways that you can capture attention, and keep it.

1. Begin With Casual Conversation

Scheduling five to ten minutes at the beginning of each meeting for casual conversation will prove to get people more engaged and talkative. Ask about their week or follow-up on something you had discussed previously. Prove to your colleagues that you care about them. Everyone loves to feel acknowledged and heard. Be sure to check in with each individual, otherwise you may only get a few responses from your more outgoing, extroverted friends. 

With the new social barriers we are experiencing with virtual meetings, asking questions and setting aside time for watercooler chit-chat is essential to creating a positive group atmosphere and motivating people to participate. Even using an ice-breaker can ease the room.

2. Have a Clear Agenda

Prepare and create a list of the items you want to make certain you talk about and share them beforehand. Because virtual meetings are notorious for skewing off-topic, having a plan and sticking to it will increase the efficiency of your meeting.

By sending out the agenda beforehand, you can ask participants to examine it and jot down any ideas, comments, or questions they would have. This promotes engagement before the meeting even begins and will direct conversation towards collaboration and co-creation, rather than disassociation and unresponsiveness.

3. Mandate A Video-On Policy

Turn your video on. Many people are too comfortable as flies on the wall during virtual meetings. With the camera off, there is no accountability or motivation to participate. Requiring meeting participates to have their camera on has multiple benefits.

First, communication will be stronger. Seeing other participants faces and their nonverbal cues will make the meeting feel more personal and will humanize meetings on your screens. A camera that's on will also deter multi-tasking. We all know that sometimes we'd rather catch up on emails, but focusing on the meeting never hurt anyone; it actually benefits you.

4. Stay Short

Keep it short and sweet. The shorter your meeting can be, the better. Between 15 and 45 minutes is an ideal time. Anything shorter isn't worth doing and anything longer will have people yearning to be finished.

If there is an absolute need to have a longer meeting, take breaks. Breaks give people the chance to grab some coffee, check their email, or get up and get the blood flowing. Once you reconvene, your participants will be more willing to get back into a productive mindset and participate.

5. Pass the Mic

Share your screen and talk time. Meetings should replicate discussions. They shouldn't consist of one person talking at the others. Ask for different opinions, updates, and questions. Don't wait until the end of the meeting to invite others to talk.

Prioritizing conversation and sharing your screen will help participants to feel included and maximize engagement. If participants feel as though they can step in whenever they have a question or something to add, they will be more likely to pay attention. You can also use phrases such as,

"Jen, what do you think about this?" or 
"Harry, you know more about this than I do, can you explain?"

These types of questions ensure the highest amount of participation.

 

Following these 5 tips will take your meetings from boring to rewarding. If you're looking for more information, check out this article from Visme on meeting effectiveness.

Topics: meetings and events