Remote working, and more recently, ‘virtual meetings’ have become an integral part of our day-to-day lives as of late. Here in the conference, meetings and training venue marketplace, naturally, we’re big fans of live meetings.
However, we’re also leading on ways to connect live experiences to those people who can’t meet up in person. The reality is though that, for those ‘out of the room’, the experience does not meet the standards for those taking everything in ‘live’.
So, how can you make the virtual / digital experience more engaging?
Follow our top tips for making a virtual meeting more interactive.
Make Venues’ Virtual Meeting Best Practices
We understand as an organisation that works closely with meetings, conferences, and training, meetings appear in all shapes and sizes. One-to-one meetings between colleagues, large gatherings and everything in between. While the logistics may differ, the etiquette remains the same.
We’ve detailed our virtual meetings best practices to help you make the most of your virtual meetings, making them smooth, immersive, inclusive and most importantly, productive!
Get the Tech right
There is a big difference between a Zoom call between 1-2 people and a really productive meeting amongst a board of directors, a training session for multiple groups, or a creative brainstorm. See Zoom as a video phone call, what we’re talking about is more, it's a virtual meeting.
So the technology has to be right, large screens, high speed wi-fi, and cameras that are capable of bringing individuals into the room, and groups into the home office (or kitchen table!).
This gives the impression that the individual has ‘joined’ the meeting, and isn’t just watching it. Equally, those in the room can see individuals and engage with them properly.
Great technology can do this with multiple groups, maybe situated in different parts of the country (or world), meaning content can be shared from a central point with lots of people. Everyone feels involved and able to contribute.
2) Plan, Plan, Plan
If your meetings lack focus or run over, it means that you could benefit from planning beforehand. Something as little as putting together an agenda of items to discuss during your virtual meeting, alongside timestamps can make all the difference to keep you on track. Sharing in ample time before the virtual meeting allows everyone to be in the loop.
Think about your digital audience as not a supplementary part of the meeting, but one that needs special attention. How can you ensure that those out of the room have the same level of engagement as others; work in opportunities for them to contribute. Remember they will have more interruptions than those in the room, and plan accordingly.
Finally, however obvious this may be, be prepared. This could be anything from opening tabs you’ll need throughout the meeting and sending links ahead of time, to testing technology both in the main meeting, and with those people coming into the room remotely.
3) Don’t Invite Everyone
Virtual meetings are great for testing disciplines we should apply to all meetings.
Sometimes, inviting more people than you need can be counterproductive, especially if you have senior or important contributions from outside of the room to bring into the meeting.
Too many people can mean one of two things, two many contributions or not enough. Clear space for those outside the room, when they contribute they can’t get into large discussions with lots of people, so keep the conversation tight by limiting the amount of people (and opinions) you want at the table.
Inviting only essential people to the virtual meeting ensures that your meeting is a perfect size and can work productively.
4) Make It Visual
Show your screen, create interactive presentations, include whiteboards, do whatever you need to do to make your virtual meeting more visual. This is especially important in training meetings, very few people learn by being talked at, a visual and more interactive approach is often more favoured.
Being visual with your information can make a virtual meeting much more engaging, remember, your enemy as a presenter or organiser is the amount of distractions your virtual delegates are dealing with. If you’re talking about something, why not share your screen and illustrate it visually? Why not create an interactive poll? Include imagery into your presentation to liven it up a little.
Taking a more creative approach towards your virtual meeting can improve people’s attention span and work to help them retain more of the information you are sharing. After all, most people learn by doing, so get them involved.
5) Turn Your Camera On/Off When Appropriate
This is an important one to help resemble some normalcy during your meeting, showing your face will often help people forget they are working virtually. This can help to both put a name to the face and have something for your eyes to concentrate on.
There are times when you can switch off the camera, if you’re encouraging breakout or working groups, no one likes the idea of having a face looking over them. If you’re using large screens, this feeling is multiplied in the main room of the meeting.
6) Small Talk First
Invite a group of people starved of social interaction into a virtual meeting and it's only natural they’ll be a bit of chit chat. This is completely fine and expected, pleasantries are helpful to get all this out of their system in preparation for the important work talk.
It also adds a degree of normalcy into the meeting, people get used to working on a virtual level and it gives a chance for any technical issues to be ironed out.
Of course, don’t let it draw on for too long, but making time for small talk first can break down any barriers and get people engaged before the virtual meeting has officially even started.
7) Interact, Ask Questions, Get People Involved
There’s nothing worse than being talked at for an hour or so, as with a meeting in a physical office, it’s paramount to keep everyone engaged and interactive. Make the meeting a two-way conversation across all delegates (at least when possible).
We understand it’s not always possible to hear everyone’s opinion, but create a poll, make time for a Q&A, or ask select people for feedback - anything to make it a two-way street.
This will also ensure people are paying attention, as the stress of being chosen to answer a question (imprinted in our brains from our time in school) will kick in. Always make time for other people, if even just to make them feel included and a part of the conversation.
What Happens Next?
As with all meetings, the work doesn’t stop when the meeting ends and virtual meetings are no different. Use the technology on hand to share recordings, submit notes or minutes, share slides, scribbles on white boards and everything else. Remember to make the follow up as interactive as the meeting itself.
Holding a successful, interactive virtual meeting is as a result of careful planning and preparation. Here at Make Venues, we take meetings seriously and help ensure a seamless, shared experience through our various meeting venues across London, Warwickshire and Bristol.
As a venue group we’ve invested in the technology you need for a robust and worry free virtual meeting, and we’re on top of the latest trends and thinking on how to make the most of doing business remotely in more interactive and engaging ways.
If this is of interest to you, contact our team today on 0808 168 5876, or get in touch via our enquiry form for more information.