8/6/2020

3 Ways to Increase Workplace Engagement During Virtual Meeting Discussions

Effective communication is a key element to take into account when managing a remote team. It makes no difference whether the team you are managing is composed of members working fully remotely, or if you have an even mix of both remote workers and people who work at a traditional office, or if there is just one team member who works from home every once in a while, in order to communicate effectively you will inevitably use one of the many video conferencing softwares available in the market. 

And as anybody who has ever used one of these virtual meeting platforms knows, maintaining everybody engaged and actively participating in the discussion can be challenging. Participants may be distracted by internal situations such as audio issues, inability to log in, untimely software updates, etc. Add to this the fact that most remote workers are more likely to be distracted by external issues such as noise, children and pets, ringing phones and doorbells, etc. 

In this article you will learn how to tackle these issues as well as get some tips on how to create the perfect environment that leads to more engaging virtual meetings. 

1. Create virtual meeting norms

The best place to start is to create a set of virtual meeting norms that should be followed by all participants. This works best when you include your team in this process to help eliminate any resistance towards these rules. Some useful ideas are:

• Testing tech before the meeting and solving any issues that arise. 

• No multitasking during meetings

• All participants must find a quiet space while in the meeting. 

• Minimize background noises by requiring everybody to be on mute when not speaking. 

Whatever the norms you set, make sure to communicate them at the top of the agenda everytime you set a meeting. This will reinforce the rules and help with compliance. 

2. Design better virtual meetings

Once the ground rules are established, you need to think about designing a great virtual meeting. This goes beyond just setting a well paced agenda, although this is also an important part of any meeting. You need to think about the purpose of the meeting and determining if it is necessary at all. After all, it is almost impossible to make useless meetings more engaging if they are doomed from the start. Other ideas you want to take into account are:

• Distribute roles such as Notetaker, Facilitator, Tech Support, Timekeeper, Flowmaster,  and change them every time you meet. 

• Earn and keep people’s attention through polls, video, whiteboard activities, etc

• Keep the context of the meeting in mind. This means minding timezones and other such considerations. 

• Assign somebody to be in charge of the scheduling and confirming of the meeting, this can be a team member or a virtual assistant.

3. Minimize technical difficulties

Technical difficulties are almost guaranteed and as such you should take the necessary measures to minimize their impact on the meetings and distracting participants. A useful way to go about this is to have everybody test their equipment to identify issues and solve them in a timely manner. It is also important to have a plan B in place in case everything goes awry. 

With so many variables that can go wrong in a home office setting, a coffee shop, or any other less than ideal places where people can choose to work from, it is a great idea to give your team the option of renting out a meeting room in an office building. This is a very easy process and is also a flexible arrangement, as your team can book them by the hour or for the whole day as needed. This ensures that they will have zero distractions, have access to all the tech they need, and that they are connected to a robust and stable network. 

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