With the constantly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people still conduct their work from home. While we have had a year to adjust, a big challenge some workplaces are still facing is virtual meetings.
Keeping an in-person meeting interesting and engaging is something that comes naturally to many of us. But running an engaging virtual meeting can feel much more difficult. It’s easy for your meeting attendees to get distracted and bored when everyone is sitting separately in their homes.
That’s why we’ve created a list of solutions for hosting great virtual meetings. In this article, we’ll discuss virtual meeting platforms, ice breakers for virtual meetings, and more tips and tricks you can use the next time you gather your team online.
1. Virtual Meeting Platforms
It’s important to choose a great virtual meeting platform in order to avoid tech issues and utilize important features, like screen sharing and breakout rooms, if you need them.
The most popular virtual meeting platforms are:
- Google Hangouts
- Google Meet
- Adobe Connect
If you are using a platform for the first time, make sure you send instructions to your team, so everyone can get online easily.
2. Ice Breakers for Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings can feel a bit stiff, especially if the meeting attendees have never worked together in person. That’s why ice breakers can be a fun way to get everyone warmed up and let everyone share something about themselves.
For example, you can play Two Truths and a Lie. Each person has to say two true things and one lie about themselves, and everyone else guesses which statement is the lie.
Another fun game for teams is 10 Things in Common. As a team, you have to collectively come up with 10 things you all have in common. For example, “we all have an iPhone,” “we’ve all watched Friends.”
These are great ways for your team to bond and get to know each other better before getting into your meeting.
3. Create and Share a Meeting Agenda
It can be easy to get off-topic in a meeting, virtual or in-person. Creating a meeting agenda can keep you on track and help you stay organized as you talk.
And if you share your meeting agenda with your team, it allows everyone to prepare for the meeting. If time permits, you can let your team add items to the agenda. And it will help everyone stay engaged because they’ll know what to expect from your virtual meeting.
If a member of your team is hosting the meeting, or you are meeting in a small group, encourage everyone to prepare an agenda or main points of discussion. This will help your meeting run smoothly and get everyone thinking and engaging with the discussion even before the meeting starts.
4. Test Your Tech
There’s nothing worse for losing engagement in a virtual meeting than having technical issues. Of course, sometimes these issues are unavoidable. But if you log in to your platform of choice early and test your tech, you can catch any problems before the meeting starts.
This is especially important if you’re using a new platform or trying a new function on your platform. If you need to screen share or write on the virtual whiteboard, test this all out ahead of time.
And of course, ensure you have a strong internet connection so you won’t have connectivity issues during the meeting. If you host virtual meetings frequently, it can be a good idea to have your phone or other device set up as a backup wifi hotspot, just in case you run into connection problems.
5. Keep Track of Time
The average attention span for an adult is 15 to 20 minutes. Of course, you can’t always keep meetings so brief. But you should be managing your time to avoid lengthy meetings and unnecessary information.
The best way to keep everyone engaged is by keeping your virtual meeting as brief as possible. Your meeting agenda will help you do this by staying on track.
Another factor to keep in mind is to split meetings up. More frequent but shorter sessions are better than one extended meeting. This gives people an opportunity to focus on specific information instead of keeping track of a whole week’s worth of updates.
And more frequent meetings give your team lots of chances to ask questions throughout the week and check-in with you and each other.
6. Use Visuals
Visuals are an excellent way to keep everyone engaged with interactive slides and images. Luckily, most virtual meeting platforms offer a lot of visual functions. Make use of them as much as possible.
Creating a Powerpoint presentation and sharing it on your screen can help make the information easier to digest and engage everyone. About 65% of people learn better with visuals, so sharing data in graphs is always a good idea.
And it never hurts to throw in a work-appropriate funny photo or meme once in a while. No one will ever complain about a cute picture of your cat or a funny comic strip. You can even ask employees to share photos of their own pets or a part of their day to mix up the meeting, keep it engaging, and act as another great ice breaker.
7. Encourage Chat Function Use
Many virtual platforms provide a chat section where people can offer their input without interrupting the speaker. Some people may hesitate to use this in case it appears like they aren’t paying attention.
However, the chat function actually keeps people more engaged. They can ask questions or make comments and say hello to people who have just entered the meeting—all without interrupting the flow of speech.
And chat functions ensure people can make their points before they forget what they were going to say. Periodically check the chat, and address questions and comments that arise.
8. Check-In With Your Team
Go beyond answering questions in the chat and check-in with your team so they can vocalize questions or comments they may have. No matter how interesting a speaker you are, it can be hard to hold everyone’s attention.
But when you make time for everyone to speak, people will need to stay more engaged and alert. And, of course, it’s important to get input from your team, even if you’re just giving everyone a weekly update.
You should have at least one check-in per meeting. If you’re holding a long meeting, consider having one or two points where you take a step back and let the rest of your team chime in.
9. Keep It Small
Giving everyone time to talk can be difficult if you host a big meeting. Smaller meetings with fewer people make time management easier and provide more opportunities for everyone to speak.
Try meeting with each department in your team instead of having everyone meet together. If you aren’t able to do this, experiment with breakout rooms.
Many virtual meeting platforms allow you to create breakout rooms, where you can separate people into small groups. If you are hosting a large meeting, try using the breakout room at least once, so everyone has a chance to feel heard.
10. Ask For Feedback
After your virtual meeting, don’t hesitate to email your team for feedback. What did they like about the meeting, and is there anything they feel could be improved. Hearing from your team is an essential part of hosting successful virtual meetings.
You might get suggestions for ice breakers, feedback on the meeting length, or someone might discover a new feature you can use on your video platform. As we all adapt to remote work and virtual meetings, working collaboratively online is a constantly evolving process.
Keep everyone engaged by taking their opinions and needs into consideration. You’ll find the more meetings you host, and the more feedback you get, the more successful, engaging, and productive your meetings will become.
How To Host A Virtual Meeting
An online meeting is a perfect way to stay connected to team members that are working remotely. As you transition your workplace and your team online, don’t forget about transitioning other factors of your business, like your marketing!
Digital marketing is more important than ever during COVID and beyond. That’s why the team at Collide Digital is working hard in our virtual meetings to run Google Ads, create content, implement website design, and more for all our clients.
In fact, our clients have seen an average increase in revenue of 90% year over year! If you’re ready to grow your business online, contact Collide Digital today at [email protected] or (925) 679-5781. And if you need more information about digital marketing, check out our many resources.