Online meeting fatigue is real.
There has been a significant increase in online meetings over the last year—and they are likely to remain commonplace because they are so convenient. At first it was a novelty, but now it’s causing some serious strain. It’s harder to pay attention to nonverbal communication, we have to tolerate video/audio glips, watching yourself on camera is draining plus many other factors have made online meetings a source of stress. So…what can we do about it?
If you are feeling like your meetings might resemble the latest memes—then rethink and reinvent your virtual meetings. We’ve compiled a list of five valuable tips to help keep engagement high and skyrocket your meetings productivity.
Send Out an Agenda Ahead of Time and Get Everyone Involved
The first step, is preparing a good agenda. If you want to drive engagement and increase participation send the agenda before the meeting and as part of your invitation. By creating a schedule, you bring organization, document purpose and desired outcome and discuss participant expectations. Even better yet, identify different people on your team to assume different roles such as Facilitator, Recorder, Timekeeper, Moderator and Tech Supporter. Giving your team some say in building the agenda also goes a long way and provides an even stronger boost to your meeting engagement.
Start with a Welcome and Consider an Icebreaker Activity
Before you dive right in, start with a great icebreaker or check-in question. These are designed to help participants relax and feel comfortable while creating a positive atmosphere and providing an opportunity for people to get to know one another. For example, you can share photos of your workspace or a favorite trip. Get your colleagues out of their chairs, get moving and do a home scavenger hunt. Give everyone a little task: “You have 30 seconds to fetch something orange,” or “Grab a unique item from your work-from-home office to share.” Another simple idea for team conversation, share the last photo that you took on your phone or shared on Facebook.
Cameras On for Interpersonal Connection
Being able to see each other is a significant element in being able to connect with others, so requiring video makes sense. It makes your participants feel more engaged as it allows them to see faces, emotions and reactions – you are interacting. A virtual meetings purpose is to help you feel as if you are there, staying connected with others and helping to encourage active engagement. Since everyone is separated by distance, keeping your video on will help you run more effective virtual meetings. Remember this simple tip: seeing facial expressions matters!
Cameras Off to Prevent Burn Out
While it’s important to try and help attendees feel connected, if your audience is suffering from meeting fatigue another on-camera meeting might not be as prouctive as you hope. When planning your meeting, think about whether or not to require cameras to be on. Consider your audience and how many online meetings they generally attend. If you feel your group might need a break from being on camera, consider asking participants about their preference when you send out the agenda. For example, “While I’d prefer to see all your smiling faces during our meeting, let me know if you’re a little burned out and would prefer a camera-optional meeting.”
Use Techniques for Virtual Feedback, Brainstorming and Voting
Increase engagement by using different techniques for brainstorming, gathering input, voting, hearing feedback and keeping everyone energized. The number of online tools is endless with many being free and simple to use. Get in the habit of sharing your screens or using a whiteboard so everyone can chime in with ideas. Seeing things on the screen and using voting buttons or emojis will help people stay focused and engaged. If you notice the energy level is dropping, ask your group to do a simple stretch or participate in a quick, fun energizing game to help replenish energy.
Mix Things Up and Keep Your Team on Their Toes
No matter how entertaining or exciting your presentation may be, sitting in a virtual meeting listening to the same voice can be a challenge for anyone. Switch things up throughout the meeting to help keep your team on their toes and ultimately keep everyone more engaged. Include multiple presenters, schedule stretch or snack breaks and even break out into smaller chat groups to discuss ideas and regroup after five minutes. Anything to break up the monotony, especially if it is going to be a longer meeting, will definitely lead to increased engagement and participation.
Even though many aspects of our prfessional landscape seem to be “going back to normal,” the convenience of online meetings means they are likely to continue. Make sure yours keep your audience in mind to help every one stay connected and productive.
All of our service area leaders have dozens of years of experience. These are protips they’ve picked up along the way that you can use right now to solve common issues.