5 Ways to energize your online meeting
The world is opening up again. This is wonderful news for all of us in the meetings and events industries. The reality, however, is that online meetings are going to continue. And while online meetings are both safe and convenient, they’re not always — dare we say — well executed.
If your meetings are starting to turn into “meh”tings, here are five tips and tricks to keep attendees focused and engaged.
Begin with something good
Set the tone for the meeting by offering congratulations to a team member or by mentioning something positive about what is happening. A gesture of this nature takes only a minute or two and can have big impact on the emotional tonality of the meeting.
As a facilitator, it’s your task to set the expectations — both before the meeting and at the start of the meeting. Be very clear with your participants on online meeting etiquette by creating a list and distributing it with your invites. Such items might be turning microphones to mute when not speaking, opening webcams (because it’s helpful to see faces), or shutting down other devices that might be consuming bandwidth. Your etiquette can be reiterated quickly (and with a friendly tenor) at the beginning of the meeting or written on your virtual whiteboard/collaboration tool.
Keep it short and break it up
There’s no need to sprint through an agenda, but the more you’re able to stay focused on what needs to be achieved, the less likely attention spans will stray. And speaking of straying attention spans, most people have a maximum focus duration of approximately 25 minutes. Use the Pomodoro Technique — a time management method — to break down work into intervals, separated by short breaks.
When it’s time to take a break, you can offer up an activity called “run and fetch”! The premise is simple: the facilitator says, “run and fetch a [insert name of item]”. It could be something purple, a favourite book, a photo of a loved one — the sky’s the limit! (Well, actually the ceiling is the limit on this game, but you get the drift.) The game encourages participants to stand, move, and get their blood flowing. Ensure a few minutes in your schedule to enable participants to “show and tell” the item that they’ve fetched.
Create quizzes or polls
Interactivity is immensely helpful to maintain attention spans. Quizzes and polls allow you to gauge your audience’s interest and comprehension of a particular subject. Different online platforms have different interactive polling functions available. (If interactivity is not available, a simple PowerPoint slide with multiple choice answers might suffice.) Consider dropping a quiz every 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind that the goal is NOT to stump attendees — which could lead to disengagement. Ideally, the questions are fun and breezy.
Bonus tip: Use participant’s names
When attendees are mentioned or included, they’re more apt to stay engaged and focused. You don’t have to stop and ask questions to individual team members. But occasionally dropping names (especially in a complimentary way) is a wonderful way to perk people’s ears up.