7 Ways to Make Virtual Meetings Interactive and Engaging
Even in a fully distributed company, meetings are still a thing, they just happen remotely. However, unlike an in-person meeting, it’s a lot harder to read the room and see if everyone is still interacting and engaging with the agenda.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure your meetings are interesting, or at least engaging. Follow these tips to have interactive remote team meetings.
How to Have Engaging Virtual Meetings
1. Is This Meeting Necessary?
Before you book some time on your calendar and send out the invites, ask yourself if the meeting is really necessary. In general, unnecessary meetings are often less engaging and interesting. And if you’re booking too many unnecessary meetings, over time, people may become less engaged in the necessary ones.
Sometimes an email or asynchronous brainstorming session is the right way to go, especially if all you’re looking for is feedback or updates from other team members. But if the topic is very technical and complex, or you expect a lot of questions (and answers, and then more questions), a meeting may be your best bet.
2. Prep an Agenda and Ask for Input
Prepare and distribute an agenda before each meeting. An agenda allows participants to prepare and increases the likelihood that they will interact in each meeting. Also, ask staff to add any updates or questions to the agenda. This not only helps them engage in the process but helps facilitate open communication between manager and employee.
3. Set Ground Rules
As part of the agenda (and the beginning of the meeting), set some ground rules. For example, you might want to have people use the “raise hand” function instead of having people shout out their questions. Likewise, you may ask people to pop their questions in the chatbox.
Setting and communicating the “rules” helps participants know what to expect from the meeting and makes it more likely they’ll interact during the meeting.
4. Start With Icebreakers
One of the downsides of remote work is that you’re never in the same space as the rest of your team. This often makes it difficult to connect with coworkers on a personal level and build the trusting bonds that help a team work together.
To make meetings more interactive and help build a strong remote team, start each meeting with an icebreaker. It can be a quick question or a small activity, but whatever it is should be totally unrelated to the meeting.
Choose a question or activity that’s neutral and work-appropriate (What’s your favorite book and why? Does pineapple belong on pizza?), then let everyone answer. Give each participant a few minutes to answer the question to help the conversation grow.
Over time, team members will learn more about each other and build the trust that helps unify a team.
5. Use the Right Tools
While you could have remote meetings over the phone, that’s not an interactive setting. Using videoconferencing platforms, however, allows people to interact beyond their speaking voice.
Asking everyone to turn their cameras on allows for some face-to-face interaction. And unlike phone calls, videoconferencing tools enable participants to share and collaborate in real time, which is often the whole purpose of the meeting!
6. Smaller Is Usually Better
As a rule, smaller meetings are usually better, and this is very true in a remote format. Once there are more than 10 participants, the meeting is more like a town hall or webinar. That doesn’t mean limiting every meeting to 10 participants, but if you’re over that number, you may need a different set of meeting rules.
For example, in larger meetings, you may limit participants to the chat function for asking questions instead of calling them out. The advantage is that you likely won’t have a bunch of people trying to speak at the same time (or talking over each other). However, you run the risk of making the meeting less interactive.
So, as you’re inviting people, ask yourself if everyone needs to be there. You may not always have a choice, but don’t automatically include everyone. And when in doubt, instead of sending a default invite, ask that person if they think they need to attend.
7. Assign Roles
One way to keep people engaged in the meeting is to assign roles to everyone. One person can take notes for people who missed the meeting, and another can let people in. Someone can act as a timekeeper, and another can monitor the chatbox.
Letting everyone play a part and contribute to the meeting’s success can help everyone stay engaged and keep it on track!
Interact for Team Success
There are many ways to engage your staff during remote team meetings. Use these fundamental tips to get your crew on the right track! The more engaged your team feels, the more productive they’ll be, and they’ll experience more job satisfaction.
For more tips on building a remote team, read our Q and A’s.
By Christine Bernier Lienke | Categories: Remote Management