Keeping meeting attendees engaged is a familiar and continual struggle in the workplace. Particularly in the hybrid working landscape, where virtual meetings are the norm.
With the ability to keep cameras off and mute mics, staff can do anything other than concentrate on the meeting at hand.
With this in mind, let’s look at our top six ways to keep your remote employees engaged during virtual meetings so that you know you have their full attention.
1. Establish And Enforce Ground Rules.
We’ve all been there: forgetting to mute your mic or accidentally talking over another team member.
While these mishaps are easily avoidable in in-person meetings, they can prove challenging when you’re managing a remote team. It’s, therefore, essential to set some ground rules and establish what perfect online meeting etiquette looks like for your teams.
You could instruct meeting participants to use the messaging feature of your virtual meeting software when they want to ask a question.
This prevents them from interrupting whoever’s speaking and the flow of the meeting.
To boost engagement, you could establish a rule that your team should keep their cameras on in small meetings of fewer than six people.
- This has the added benefit of allowing attendees to read each other’s facial expressions and body language.
For meetings involving a mixture of remote and face-to-face workers, you could institute a policy that staff remind attendees of their names before speaking.
- This means staff will always be able to identify who’s speaking.
Of course, hand in hand with setting these rules is ensuring your team understands how to use all the features of your chosen virtual meeting platform and is equipped with the most up-to-date versions of software.
You should check, for example, that they’ve been able to download Windows Server 2022 to take advantage of its security enhancements, a necessity for hybrid workers.
Provide training for new starters and organise refresher sessions for more experienced workers who need a reminder.
2. Equip Your Team With The Right Tools.
Without the right virtual meeting tools, remote team members will struggle to attend virtual meetings and stay focused.
To enable employees to join meetings from anywhere, equip them with Australian VoIP numbers. Even a sales team member on the road can hop on a call between seeing clients.
Inbound Call Management.
To avoid unnecessary interruptions during meetings, arm your team with a communications platform that facilitates call forwarding and comes with a virtual receptionist service.
- This will help team members focus entirely on their meetings without worrying about missing out on business.
Shorter meetings result in fewer distractions and, thus, increased engagement.
Providing your workforce with task management software will streamline your meeting time by bridging the communication gap between team members working on different tasks.
- This is especially useful for project tracking.
Using this software, you can substitute a round-the-room catch-up on projects for a quick look over a status report or tracker.
This makes it easier to flag areas that might need more attention in meetings and which might otherwise be overlooked in a sea of updates.
Virtual Meeting Platforms.
Also known as “online meeting software”, virtual meeting platforms are software packages that facilitate communication of remote team members.
Video conferencing is usually at the core of these platforms, although many also offer tools like chat, screen sharing, recording and calendar management.
The free version allows you to host meetings with up to 10 participants and includes the following collaboration tools:
- Call recording
- HD Audio
- Screen and document sharing
- Mobile app
3. Only Invite Relevant People.
Engaging your hybrid team starts before your meeting even takes place. Don’t fall into the common trap of over-inviting employees and overloading them with irrelevant information.
Think carefully about the information you want to convey in your meeting and whose jobs will be affected by this.
Research shows that smaller meetings can lead to more meaningful and candid discussions, team bonding, and better communication.
This is particularly important in a virtual environment where staff may feel isolated and out of the loop.
Every member of your workforce that attends a meeting should feel their presence is necessary and valued.
Ask yourself: is a virtual meeting the best medium to share or gather information on your intended topic? If an email or group chat will do the job, do that instead!
4. Set The Agenda Of Your Virtual Meeting In Advance.
Setting out a meeting agenda, sending this to attendees, and offering them the opportunity to tweak this is an essential step to a successful meeting. It ensures your meeting stays interactive and doesn’t just turn into a lecture.
- It will also motivate your team to attend and engage.
You must ensure, though, that allowing employees to contribute to the structure of your meeting doesn’t mean it runs off-track. Some items should be locked in and uneditable.
The prioritisation of tasks and information of a time-sensitive nature is crucial. This will help you get staff up to speed as efficiently as possible so that they can start being productive.
There’s no need to assign time to discuss regular tasks and functions.
5. Remind Attendees Of Your Virtual Meeting’s Goal.
A great starting point for planning any meeting is to establish its goal. Ideally, you should share this ahead of time alongside your meeting invites and agendas.
However, it can also be a great reminder to have the goal visible in a meeting handout.
At the end of the meeting, it’s great to circle back to this and discuss key actionable steps that need to be taken.
6. Recognise Employees’ Efforts.
You may have crafted a succinct and goal-driven meeting and established good meeting etiquette, but to get the most out of your staff, you must make them feel valued and recognised.
Set aside just a few minutes in your weekly catch-ups to thank employees for their hard work and acknowledge any of their particular achievements.
You could even set up an ‘employee of the week’ scheme, with the winner to be announced at the end of your catch-up sessions and a small prize awarded to them. This will go a long way to boosting participation and engagement.
Final Words On Making Your Virtual Meetings More Engaging.
The future of work is hybrid, so facing the challenge of keeping staff engaged in virtual meetings is a necessity.
Following our six top tips will help ensure that your workforce is up-to-date with their roles and projects and any wider business news.
Establishing best practices for meeting etiquette and training your workforce to follow these will minimise distractions and allow staff to feel confident in their approach to all meetings.
- Arming staff with the virtual meeting tools they need to join meetings easily means they’ll be much more likely to attend and stay focused.
If employees can join a discussion from their phones, without having to go through the hassle of travelling to an office and desk booking, they’ll feel far more enthusiastic about attending and giving their full attention.
- Keeping the content and invite list of your meeting relevant and concise will allow key players more time to contribute and take in critical information.
- Offering employees a stake in meetings and the opportunity to prepare means they’re much more likely to involve themselves actively in conversations.
Crucially, too, without recognising and rewarding the effort staff make to stay up-to-date and carry out their roles to a high standard, even the briefest, most focused and interruption-free meeting will be met with unengaged attendees.
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an enterprise VoIP system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile.