A Dozen Tips for Facilitating an Online Meeting


Your Remote Meetings Have to Be Engaging: Here’s How to Do It

in Virtual Meetings/Teams
Article exclusively written for Facilitate.com By Rachel Joyce

Remote meetings don’t always work out as planned, mostly because of the ebbs and flows of team engagement. Harvard Business Review notes in an article on running a great virtual meeting that productivity is likely to dip due to lack of focus and preparation on the part of the organizer, attempts at multitasking among team members, and one or two attendees dominating the meeting. These, in turn, can cause engagement to wane. Given these potential scenarios, it’s imperative that you make your remote meetings as engaging as possible to ensure maximum productivity. The following tips will help you do that.

Get the right software

Before you even think about how to make remote meetings engaging, you and your team need to have the right software installed first. Fortunately, you have plenty of options. A telecommuting software guide by HP recommends Zoom, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Microsoft Team for remote teams. All are stable, widely used video conferencing apps that allow for multiple users. Zoom also offers call transcription, while Cisco Webex Meetings features screen sharing (for a minimal fee). Microsoft Teams, on the other hand, comes with IM chat and can even host up to 10,000 attendees. By getting the right software, you’ll minimize in-meeting hitches that are likely to distract your team.

For meetings where gathering ideas from participants is key, platforms like FacilitatePro (FacilitatePro - Features to facilitate effective collaboration) provide an online flipchart for the group to brainstorm, organize and prioritize ideas either anonymously to encourage open dialog or for groups which prefer they can be attributed.


Check in with everyone

In a Stanford Mag list of tips for effective remote meetings, Stanford Distinguished Professor Emerita Margaret Neale recommends starting the meeting by checking in with each participant. Then, throughout the meeting, make it a point to give everyone a turn to speak. As Neale points out, participants are likely to get disengaged in virtual meetings, which is why you’ll need to “be mindful of engaging members who are reticent and managing those who love to speak.” Another way you can do this is by interspersing agenda discussions with some water cooler talk. In this way, you’ll keep the mood vacillating between formal and informal, thus allowing you to keep everyone engaged.

Make it interactive

Virtual meetings are rife with distractions. In a recent survey, Fast Company found that 60% of respondents admitted to multitasking while on a video call. You can remedy this tendency by making your virtual meetings more interactive to keep everyone’s focus. Ensuring interactive meetings ultimately boils down to preparation. In our '10 Tips for Good Meeting Design' post, we covered how productive meetings can occur if you come up with pre-meeting activities like surveys, setting of expectations, and sharing of project updates. Such activities will get everyone engaged by prepping them mentally for the discussions to come.

Screenshare

In a Business Collective blog on improving remote meetings, Hubstaff co-founder Dave Nevogt suggests screensharing. Nevogt explains that doing this lets your team “effectively ‘look over your shoulder’ as you are talking.” In other words, your team will be able to see your screen the way you see it. This gives them another thing to pay attention to, thus keeping their focus for longer. You even have the option of changing the presenter to see someone else's computer screen. In fact, Nevogt believes screenshare technology is the closest thing to a physical meeting, which makes it worth trying or incorporating into your next virtual one.

Have fun

Yes, there are important issues to hash out in these virtual meetings. But that doesn't mean they can't be fun. If you want full engagement, you'll also need to lighten the atmosphere with jokes from time to time. In this way, you'll ease tension, counter boredom, and encourage active participation. So, unleash your inner jester and let everyone chime in, too, to get the team laughing. You can even introduce some games (e.g., word puzzles, spot the difference, etc.) or icebreakers (e.g., virtual karaoke, office trivia, etc.) every now and then. You can go the extra mile, and think of ways to make the games relevant to the meeting itself. For example, the game scores will determine the presentation order. The whole point is for everyone to have fun, so they'll be engaged when it's time for the serious stuff.

About FacilitatePro

FacilitatePro LogoFacilitatePro is a cloud based or self hosted application that helps groups brainstorm and evaluate ideas, from any device, anywhere, anytime. Ideas you can implement. Decisions that have buy-in. FacilitatePro collects and distills your rain of ideas into the highest quality, clearest output possible to make your brainstorm effective and productive.

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