Virtual is now reality. 2020 has forced it (and so many other things) into our daily lives. Happy hours banned? Share a virtual toast with friends. Have a weird rash? Facetime your doctor for a telemed visit. School orientation? Google Meet your teacher and take a virtual tour of the classroom. Work meetings? Zoom to the rescue.

So let’s talk about virtual meetings. There are basic best practices like ‘must wear pants’ and ‘alert family you’re on camera.’ Some have perfected a professional setting with good camera angles and decent lighting. However, many of us are feeling disconnected.

Believe it or not, you can have productive virtual meetings that are also engaging. It just takes proactive effort. We’re passionate about improving communication, so whether we are hosting virtual coaching sessions, development programs or training interactions, we are sharing some tips to help improve online interactions.

  1. Get Organized – Plan ahead, send an agenda, and commit to start & end times. Communicate expectations for when and what people need to prepare to contribute.
  2. Moderate – Assign a facilitator. Nothing is worse than everyone talking at once. Set talking points and the moderator can give individual airtime to each participant while others are muted.
  3. Goals – Define the purpose for the meeting and only invite those contributing to that specific intent. Too many people in any meeting is counterproductive and it’s exponentially worse when you see all those faces on a screen. (Death by Meeting rules still apply.)
  4. Mix it Up – Use tools available on your virtual platform to further engage your team. Many offer breakout rooms and small group chats. You can segment the group randomly, or pre-determine breakouts before the call, then hop in and out of these side-discussions to check progress and answer questions.
  5. Make it fun – Virtual doesn’t have to be boring. Create themes for participants to get creative with how they interact, what they bring or how they personalize a virtual background. Use polling and chat features during your Q/A to increase participation. Create a countdown to the meeting exit to alleviate the painful frozen hang-up faces.

If it feels ‘virtually’ impossible to engage your group, we’d love to help!

Stefaney Caro and Katie Rials are Registered Corporate Coaches and Co-founders of Mind Your Biz. They specialize in improving communication and individual responsibility through coaching, consulting and team development. Learn more at www.mind-yourbiz.com  | 404-431-5946 | info@mind-yourbiz.com.