1. Share agenda in advanceTo make meetings more successful, you should have a clear and defined meeting agenda in advance. Send it out at least a day before the meeting, it should state who will be managing the different parts of the meeting, and the topics that will be discussed, even state how much time that each part of meeting has been alotted. Sharing your agenda beforehand gives your team time to think and prepare about the points which will be addressed, and will help them be more engaged and invested.
2. Use icebreakersUsing icebreakers should be on top of any manager’s list when they’re trying to learn how to engage meeting participants. These will increase employees’ engagement in remote environments. If there are new team members, you should introduce yourself, and let the other participants do the same. Mentioning something personal is also a great way to grab people's attention, then use that as a segway to a new topic. Using games and trivia can also be positive ice breaking activities that lead to an interactive and enjoyable presentation.
3. Keep it interestingPart of your role as a manager is to use different presentation skills to deliver information. Our brains wander if they're not engaged, so use your voice, facial expressions and body language. Always use interesting tools and techniques that make your presentation fun and interactive. For example, in an in-person meeting, you’d probably rely on a whiteboard and start explaining meeting points to participants while they’re taking notes. During a virtual meeting, you should also use charts, videos, slides, statistics, and lists to deliver an engaging message.
4. Delegate tasksEngaging participation in virtual meetings can be challenging. To combat this, delegate tasks before and during the meeting to overcome this problem. If you're facing a problem in your business, ask the team to research the topic and then get the team to provide their main insight, or brainstorm a subject together. Also, assign people to manage certain parts of the meeting. Engaging meetings are all about active participation, so make sure that every member of the team has something to do and something to share.
5. Keep it shortStudies show that people start to lose focus after 45 minutes, so you should ensure that your meetings are not longer than that. Each meeting should also have one main topic or arching agenda; a single message that you want to impart to the team, so keep it short and simple. A good way to test this, is to go through the meeting by yourself and then ask yourself the question, "What is this communicating?"
6. Collect feedbackUsing surveys and live polls during remote meetings will make the meeting more interactive and boost the participants’ energy. You can use polls and surveys before discussing a specific point on your meeting agenda to compare findings. You can also use them after discussion to evaluate the impact of the topic on participants. Poll questions asked before and after the meeting can also be used as a learning tool. For example, you can ask the same question before and after the meeting, and then compare the answers per member. This is a reliable tool to show attendees the value of the discussion and their participation.
7. Use follow-up emailsFollowing up on tasks, commitments and comments assigned during your remote meetings will engage your team. This provides your team with their feedback and your comments, and closes the loop on each meeting or topic.
Final thoughtsMaking virtual meetings interactive and engaging can be a real challenge. However, you can succeed by following these 7 simple steps. Remember to prepare your agenda and share it in advance, to give your team time to prepare their ideas and questions. Also, use icebreakers and games and think of different presentation methods to gain better engagement and interaction. Lastly, keep meetings short for the sake of your employees, but also to ensure that the meeting's message communicates well and is memorable.
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