Why oh why do we humans think that online meetings have to be officious and monotonous? That boring, dry, and dull online meetings are the only way? Or that they make any kind of impact?
We stab ourselves in the foot when we hold dull meetings period but especially when we hold dull online meetings. We do ourselves a disservice because we increase the chances that people are multitasking even more than 93% norm (Source: TechChange).
Yes more than 9 out of every 10 people multitask during online meetings. Eesh!
What causes people to multi-task and lose focus?
People multitask during online meetings when there are roadblocks to participation, roadblocks to learning. These roadblocks include:
- Not feeling included
- The content is dull and dry
- Not being engaged
- There is no interaction
- Missing two-thirds of the potential ways to communicate and learn
Conversely, when people are engaged and interacting, impact, collaboration, input and taking action all amp up.
Now that we’ve got you up and running with Zoom (Six simple tips for running better Zoom meetings) it’s time to take it to the next level with your next online meeting..
I have a question for you.
Do you want to be the team leader whose online meetings your staff WANT to come to?
Do you want to radically increase the chances that people are engaged, give their input and take action after your meetings?
I’ve got your back.
Here’s how to remove the roadblocks to dry, dull meetings and increase your impact and fully use 100% of the ways to communicate and learn online.
Let’s take you from 33% to 100%
While people are getting used to working virtually from home, tech tools can still be a major barrier. As soon as you start your meeting make sure you do a simple tech check. Ask participants if they can see you, if they can hear you. Be direct. Ask them to put their answer in the chat and/or unmute themselves to answer.
Hot tip: has the added bonus of not only being a tech check but setting the stage for interaction from the get go. You are showing that you care about people’s participation plus you’re getting participants to practice using the tech in a simple win-win way..
2. Check in
Make sure you check in through the entire meeting. In fact, to stave off multitasking aim for some form of check in every 5-10 minutes. Before your eyeballs roll to the back of your head and you sigh in exasperation so loud that you blow the papers off your desk, know this is super easy to do.
The specific ways you chose to check in will depend on how many people you’re online with, how well they know each other etc. Here are some examples to pick from and to get your own ideas flowing:
- Ask participants to put in the chat what room in the house they’re working from
- If you’re working with a global group, ask them to write in the chat what city/town/village they’re in
- Ask everyone to unmute themselves for a minute and on the count of 3 to yell hello
- Get folks to write in the chat what their number one priority is for the meeting
- Using a scale of 1 to 5 (or something funny like this scale) get participants to rate their energy level
- Do the same only use the screen like a continuum. Have folks hold their hand at the leve; that reflects their energy, with the bottom of the screen being super low energy and the top of the screen being super high energy
- Have participants share what their top 3 action items are from the meeting
3. Get personal
People respond best with a personal touch. And no, I don’t mean what I call HDR (getting heavy, deep and real) but rather some very simple gestures. Just be yourself. Be approachable. Use people’s names. Use contractions instead of more formal language (eg. ‘you’re’ instead of ‘you are’). Source: Kirby Crider, Learning Technology Specialist via TechChange.
4. Go from 33% to 100%
Most online meetings rely on one form of communication/learning preference. If you think about different pathways for information to enter the brain, this is like using only one path when three exist.
More alarmingly, because we all have different preferences, the pathway you’re using is almost certainly not the pathway that everyone on your call prefers. That means that your pathway, which you see as free and clear, is actually a roadblock for others.
The three pathways or forms of communication/learning are: hearing, seeing and doing.
Woefully bad meetings rely on only one and that’s usually hearing. That’s when one person drones on and on and on and on and… You get the picture (or the audio clip).
Good meetings use two, which are usually hearing and seeing. Add in video, images, memes etc. This is incredibly important because our brains interpret pictures 600,000 times faster than text (Source: Power of visual storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio which was one of my top reads from 2018). Think about it. When you’re on your phone looking for an app, you look for the app picture not the name of the app.
Great meetings add in three pathways; hearing, seeing and doing. I’ve outlined some examples of interactive techniques above but there are loads more. Speaking of which, that brings me to my next point.
5. Get interactive
You can increase impact and engagement by getting participants to DO stuff, to interact.
For example, use the annotation feature in zoom to have participants make marks on a picture. Use the polling feature in Zoom to get input. Or use the whiteboard feature in Zoom to spark interactivity.
Here’s an example of using annotation from one of my Learning and Development Roundtables on Harnessing Tech Tools in Turbulent Times where I asked participants to indicate which ‘blob’ represented how they felt about technology.
Like what you've found so far? To learn more, we recommend checking out our Course, "Ban Boring Online Meetings."Learn More >
The sky’s the limit for creating engaging ways to amp up interaction. See below for a link to a bunch more that I created.
The next time you need to hold a Zoom meeting take some time to plan for a techcheck, make sure you checking in every five to 10 minutes, be approachable and be personal, get interactive and get going from 33% to 100%. Soon enough your team will be begging you for meetings!
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Twenty examples of creative ways to create engagement in Leading in the time of coronavirus
- Six simple tips for running better Zoom meetings
- Zoom troubleshooting tips zoom tips
- Here’s how not to host a Zoom meeting: My horrible awful no good very bad webinar. Notice the utter lack of engagement is what makes it so horrible.
- Try using a Zoom interactive feature you haven’t used before and let me know how it goes. I won’t wish you good luck as you don’t need it!