Online meetings will soon become a part of everyone’s workday. Especially if you manage a dispersed team, need to communicate with many staff members or are always on the move. How can you make these digital gatherings productive, efficient, and engaging for attendees? That’s what we’ll discuss in this article. Keep reading to learn 10 important tips to engage your team during online meetings.
How to Host Engaging Online Meetings
Ready to host more engaging online meetings? We have 10 tips to help you do it successfully!
1. Know Your Meeting’s Purpose
Before hosting or even scheduling an online meeting with your team, define a clear purpose for it. Meetings for the sake of meetings are unproductive. And it’s incredibly difficult to engage people in something that seems like a waste of time.
So, ask yourself questions like, “What am I trying to achieve with this meeting?” and, “Do we need to host a virtual conference, or will a detailed email be enough?” When you know the answers to these questions (and many similar), you can move forward.
2. Invest in the Right Technology
The right technology will make your virtual meeting smooth, efficient, and engaging. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for your company to choose from. The real trick is determining which platform has the features and capabilities you need.
Some organizations will need a simple tool to allow people to gather digitally at the same time and share ideas. Others will need developed offerings to offer advanced features such as simultaneous chat translation.
No matter where your company is at, there are a few features you should not skip out on:
Video Conferencing. While audio-based meetings can get the job done, research shows that 55% of communication is body language. If your team can’t see you during your virtual meeting, you won’t be able to convey ideas with as much clarity.
Screen Sharing. Speaking of communicating ideas, the best way is to share your screen rather than describe it. Look for a virtual meeting solution that allows for screen sharing.
Recording Capabilities. When attendees don’t have to take notes or remember every little detail from the virtual meetings they attend, they will engage and offer up more enticing ideas. The ability to record your meetings makes them much more efficient and beneficial.
Engagement Features. We’ll discuss specific engagement features in a later section. The best virtual meetings engage attendees with videos, whiteboard features, and more. Invest in technology that supports these capabilities.
3. Invite the Right Staff Members
At this point, you should have a clear purpose for your online meeting and the technology solution to host it properly. Now you need to think about the guest list. Who will you invite to this virtual get-together?
Generally, the larger the group of people, the more difficult online meetings become. Extra numbers require specific technology solutions, and the added chaos of more voices and ideas can muddy the waters.
We don’t say that large groups should forget about online meetings. Far from it! But it does mean that you should be selective with who you invite. If a specific team member doesn’t need to be present, do consider not inviting them.
Hosting online meetings with larger groups also run the risk of silencing team members who are either shy or introverted. The thought pattern might be, “Well, if everyone else is chiming in, I probably don’t need to.” Good ideas could be lost if this happens. So, invite only the folks that need to take part in your meeting. That way you’ll empower your team to really engage in the meeting process.
4. Distribute Meeting Details Beforehand
Ensure a streamlined online meeting to distribute details before the meeting starts. Every attendee should understand the meeting’s purpose, the agenda, or the “rules” to live by. They personally will be expected to contribute during the online get-together.
Let’s quickly dive into details:
Your Meeting’s Agenda. To avoid wasting time, share with your team the main talking points and the structure of your meeting. That way everyone can come prepared.
The “Rules” to Live By. It’s important for attendees to understand how they should contribute ideas. Do they just blurt them out, raise their hands and wait to be called on, enter them into a chatbox? Having these kinds of guidelines will reduce chaos.
Expected Contributions. Before your meeting starts, each attendee should have a clear idea of what they’ll be expected to contribute. Do they need to prepare something beforehand? Will they be asked to brainstorm ideas?
The more details you can establish before your meeting starts, the better. It will allow your meeting to be much more efficient and enticing. The attendees will adequately prepare themselves and engage with their colleagues.
5. Display Good Video Meeting Etiquette
There are certain online meeting etiquette best practices that will make your meeting more enjoyable. And if your meeting is enjoyable, your team will be much more willing to engage in it.
Here are few etiquette tips we recommend adopting for your online meetings:
Make Introductions. If your team members are already familiar with each other, this won’t be necessary. But if your meeting consists of people who don’t normally work together, take a few minutes to introduce everybody.
Pay Attention. When someone is talking, everyone else should be paying attention. This is especially true for video conferences as everybody should engage in the meeting.
No Interruptions. During your online meetings, nobody should talk over or interrupt the other person. It’s both rude and unproductive. Make sure everyone knows they’ll have a chance to speak and enforce a no interruptions policy.
6. Create a Social Environment
It’s very important that you create a social environment for your online meetings. This helps to build rapport between team members and encourage them to fully engage in the process. Fortunately, creating this type of atmosphere isn’t difficult.
Start every meeting with a few minutes of casual conversation. Let your team talk about current events, sports games, or life happenings. It will keep your team involved, help them develop trust with one another, and make your online meeting environment much more pleasant.
7. Keep Each Team Member Involved
We mentioned that it’s important that every attendee understands what’s expected of them at your online meeting. To really ensure engagement, you can take this tip a step further and give each person a specific job.
For example, one person could be in charge of taking notes for the whole team. Another might run slides or answer questions left in the chatbox. The jobs you assign will depend on your meeting’s purpose, the technology you use, and invitees. But, in general, try to assign specific tasks to attendees to keep them engaged.
Another way to keep each team member involved is to directly ask them for ideas or contributions. If you notice a specific person hasn’t chimed in for a while, kindly single them out and for their thoughts. This will help them feel valued and automatically engage them in the process.
8. Use Top Engagement Elements
So far, we’ve talked a lot about online meeting fundamentals. When you get the basics right, team engagement flows naturally. But there are ways to supercharge staff involvement. Here are a few of our favorites:
Because videos incorporate both audio and visuals, they’re automatically more engaging. So why not use this to your advantage and share a video or two during your online meeting? It will get your team involved on a much deeper level.
Online meeting platforms like ClickMeeting give users access to a digital whiteboard. This will allow you to illustrate your ideas in a much more comprehensive manner. As attendees can also draw on the whiteboard, this feature becomes highly collaborative and engaging.
Note that the ClickMeeting whiteboard comes with handy features such as text boxes, shapes, drawing tools, and an eraser. Illustrating your ideas has never been easier!
Polls are another great engagement hack. Want your team’s opinion? Create a quick poll and send it to them during your online meeting. They’ll enjoy sharing their thoughts and will feel valued. As a result, they’ll be more engaged during your virtual get-together.
You, as the meeting’s leader, will get access to their insights while enjoying their extra involvement. It’s a win-win scenario! Within ClickMeeting, users can run an unlimited number of polls. Make them single choice, multiple choice, or open-ended, and display results in real-time.
9. End Each Meeting With a Survey
Polls are fantastic for engaging attendees during an online meeting. But what about after? In our humble opinion, every digital meeting should end with a quick survey. Get your team’s thoughts right after the meeting, when they’re still fresh in their minds.
A lot can be learned from these surveys. But, even more importantly, they have a strong likelihood of improving team engagement. First, when your staff knows there will be a survey after each meeting, they’ll naturally be more involved in the process. After all, they won’t want to look foolish after the meeting concludes.
And second, people love getting the chance to share their opinions. It makes them feel valued and like they’re able to contribute in meaningful ways. Ending your meetings with a quick survey will give them these feelings.
10. Always Follow Up Post-Meeting
Finally, after every online meeting you host, be sure to follow up with a quick email.The messages should reiterate the main points covered in the meeting, each team member’s new objectives moving forward, and expected dues dates (if applicable).
This step will ensure that the discussion during your online meeting was actually understood and will get accomplished. Without a post-meeting follow up, your team might forget something important and the effectiveness of your entire get-together will be lessened.
Better Meetings, Better Business
If you have a distributed team, hosting effective online meetings is essential. If you’re not careful, these digital gatherings can quickly become unengaging and unproductive. Fortunately, now you know 10 ways to host amazing meetings to keep your team involved and excited to contribute. Good luck!
Looking for the perfect platform to host your online meetings? Try ClickMeeting today for FREE. Our service can accommodate up to 5000 people. Use screen sharing, video, survey and polls, and whiteboard features. Do what thousands of other companies are already doing.