9 Steps to the Best Virtual Meeting You’ve Ever Run
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Just as consumers have recipe and meal prep fatigue, employees have virtual meeting fatigue. Consider these nine tips to ramp up engagement and effectiveness of your virtual meetings.
- Use all the senses. Seeing and hearing are most common in virtual meetings, but engaging more senses increases the likelihood that team members and partners will pay attention and retain information discussed in the meeting. Requesting all attendees wear an ugly holiday sweater for a meeting or kicking off a meeting with each team member sharing the best new healthy food from a vendor they have tried recently will increase meeting effectiveness.
- Mix up the structure of meetings. Is one meeting truly just brainstorming of new programs and services or pie-in-the-sky? Is there a key problem you’re trying to solve? Short 15-minute meetings are perfect as a quick team check in.
- Incorporate storytelling. Instead of a straightforward approach to a meeting agenda, use storytelling. Create a problem-solving narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Start the story yourself and ask others to continue it through middle and end. In addition to problem solving, this can be an effective way to do brainstorming.
- Clearly communicate meeting purpose. In the meeting invite or premeeting communications, define the purpose or goal to allow all attendees to plan in advance and be prepared for the discussion. At end of meeting clarify if you all met the purpose and accomplished what you intended.
- Gamify. Adding an element of game play (soring, competing, rules of play) to a meeting activity or virtual presentation –can add a structured, yet playful, element to the event.
- Rotate meeting leadership. Not only does this build leadership skills in others, but it ensures all team members are paying attention as they know their time to lead a meeting is coming soon. It also gives everyone an appreciation for what it takes to lead an effective meeting.
- Videos on or off. I have a colleague whose spouse is a personal trainer, doing sessions from home. Clearly this makes it difficult for my colleague to always be on video during virtual calls. Decide at which meetings it’s mandatory to be on video and communicate this in advance.
- Honor personality types. Extroverted type As are always willing to jump in during group video calls, but introverts not so much. Yet their feedback is just as valuable so want to make sure capturing it. Consider using polling during virtual meetings or a round robin approach where everyone takes a turn to respond.
- Build rapport. Since we’re no longer walking into meetings together or lingering for additional discussion in the hallway after a meeting, it’s essential to find opportunities to build rapport. One study found that workers who shared a funny or embarrassing story about themselves with their team produced 26% more ideas in brainstorming sessions than workers who didn’t. The benefits of having a best friend at work have also been documented. Whether it’s an online “water cooler connection” dialogue stream in an online tool your company uses such as Slack or five minutes scheduled at the start of every meeting for the hot news story of the day, it’s important to find ways to build team connections in virtual environments.