Virtual Meetings? Let’s Make Them Engaging!
Virtual meetings are here to stay. Time to start thinking about how to optimize our virtual time together. Here are 7 tips to follow when hosting or leading a webinar for training/education or facilitating or attending a virtual meeting.
1 | Set up for success
- Show participants the way. We can’t be sure everyone knows how to connect and use technology like Zoom and Skype. One trick to get everyone on the same page is starting the meeting with “tips to engage”. Share how to use chat, Q&A, raise your hand, adjust your mic and camera, change your background, mute yourself, etc.
- Don’t go alone. For meetings or webinars, have a technology moderator and a chat room / question moderator. Small team meeting will benefit by having a technology moderator different from who’s running the meeting.
Tip: open the meeting early for those who want to get a tour of the technology or check out their video/audio settings.
2 | It’s all in the timing
- Start and end on time … even if technology trouble eats into the meeting time, shrug and say well, we’ll get more done next time.
- Keep meeting short and focused. Rick Maurer, author of Why Don’t You Want What I Want? says don’t squeeze multiple things into a single meeting. If you must deal with more than two topics, give people time to stretch, take a bathroom break, or replenish their coffee.
- Keep each segment of the meeting short too; think in terms of 30 minutes or less per topic.
3 | Build in breaks
While you want to avoid long meetings and webinars, we can’t always. Just like an in-person training or meeting, have breaks. Put a fun PPT on rotation and then walk away. Building in breaks allows all to focus with limited distractions.
Tip: Follow the rule: 50 minutes of learning and 10 minutes to stretch those legs/get coffee.
4 | Lights, Camera, Action
- Encourage video on for meetings. For anxious or negative Nellies to the idea, help them be comfortable. Show how to add a virtual background, blur the background in Skype or Teams, hide, position the camera.
- Get the light right. The rule of thumb is the light source should be behind the camera not behind you. Use lamps to create lighting that looks natural even though it isn’t. Here are ideas from a couple of techies:
- Set up a light on either the side of your computer; keep them just above your eye line.
- Trying bouncing the light off a wall.
- No lamp? Try this workaround: a computer monitor set behind and slightly above the laptop or webcam you’re using for the video. Turn the brightness up and zoom in on a Word document or anything that’s white.
- Position camera just above your eye line. Bonus this helps you look more natural on camera than you would if the camera were below you, pointing up at your chin.
- Use virtual backgrounds. Check out this how-to on upgrading your virtual background from the awesome Beth Z.
- Conducting a webinar? Bring the speaker/panelists on video.
Tip: Use a theme like quarantine casual or wear your favorite team shirt day.
5 | Let’s chat
- Whether it is a meeting or a webinar, the chat deepens the sharing and allows everyone, including introverts, to have a voice.
- Participants can now react during a meeting in Zoom by sending a thumbs up or clapping hands to communicate their excitement without interrupting the presentation.
- For webinars, bring in polling. Most platforms have polling or use Poll Everywhere, Kahoot (great to quizzes to check learning) or other polling platforms. Learn more about Zoom polling here.
Tip: Spice up chat with emojis by sharing shortcut keys like 👍 1F44D Alt X 👎 1F44E Alt X.
6 | Break the ice
- For smaller meetings allow everyone to introduce themselves. For larger meetings encourage this in the chat room
- Warm up attendees. Get the chat warmed up with an easy icebreaker questions My two favorites: what’s your go-to morning beverage or what’s on your desk that makes you smile. Check out this MindTools post with tips and ideas. Gets the fingers warmed up. for extra fun, lead a finger warm-up. Love the Spider push-ups!
7 | A dash of fun – #morethanlearning.
Check out our previous post Ban the Boring Virtual Meeting for ideas on adding fun through gamification. Here are couple more:
- Virtual Team building … MuseumHack offers a variety of virtual teambuilding options (virtual campfire anyone? How about a Tea vs Coffee tasting?). You can hire them or use their ideas for your inspiration.
- Gif Exchange offers a virtual white elephant exchange using Trello
- Couch chats (check out CALSAE’s series) and virtual lunches (check out AIA Mississippi’s In Lieu of Lunch series)
Resources to check out!
- Bye, Boring Trainings! How to Make Learning & Development Interactive with Zoom
- 5 Tips for Chapters & Virtual Meetings
- Virtual Icebreakers from Mindtools
- The Best Virtual Teambuilding Activities
- How to change your background in Zoom
- Blur your background on Skype
- Blur your background on Team
- How to Pull Off A Professional Video Call from Home
- How to Look Fresh and Professional in web Meetings
- 8 Best Practices for Polling During Webinars