Don’t Zone Out on Zoom: How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Remote Meetings

After a couple of years into the COVID-19 pandemic, practically everyone has participated in a remote meeting at some point or another. While restrictions have laxed and people are getting back to work, some companies have remained utilizing virtual solutions.

Remote meetings, however you may feel about them, are extremely useful. It’s an easy way to bring people together without having the hassle of organizing a meeting place. Those who prefer to work from home don’t have to drive out to the office. And, even if a team member is across the world on a business trip, they can participate, too.

As many benefits as there are for remote meetings, some people still have a negative association with them. This often stems from a lack of organization. These meetings should be a structured, productive moment where everyone is engaged. It can be discouraging looking at a screen full of inattentive employees. So how can you create a successful remote meeting? Here are some tips to keep meetings organized, energized, and efficient.

1. Create a Meeting Agenda

As mentioned above, organization is key to a successful remote meeting. With a plethora of distractions at home, building structure into your time to talk is crucial for keeping everyone focused.

Having a meeting agenda is the perfect way to get organized and prepared for your meeting. Don’t worry — it’s not a daunting task. There are softwares out there that can help you create agendas, set topics, talking points, and time for others to talk. Make sure you include everything you need to discuss, with the big takeaways as the main topics. Remember, the goal is to create structure, so there’s no time for distractions or awkward pauses.

A great way to keep your team engaged is by including them in the creation of the agenda. Have those working on particular projects chip in with the talking points for those topics. With everyone included in the process, you’ll feel more like a real team and cover everything you need to.

Even if you decide to make the agenda on your own, be sure to share it with your attendees before the meeting. Send it in advance, so they have time to look over everything. Everyone will be more prepared and ready to tackle the discussion at hand.

2. Make Some Visuals

Much like kids who get bored reading books with no pictures, adults can have short attention spans when there’s nothing to look at. Additionally, some people find it awkward or intimidating to stare into everyone’s faces for half an hour. Did you know that 65% of people are visual learners? That means statistically, over half of your employees will excel with some type of picture to focus on.

You can create a more inviting atmosphere by including visuals in your meetings. These could be graphs and charts, if you’re dealing with statistical topics, or more simple pictures for accents. If you want to be even more structured, design a slideshow presentation. Then, simply share your screen for others to watch as you go through the slides.

Having something to look at other than each other’s faces will help keep everyone’s attention. Not to mention, you’re more likely to remember information if it comes in a visual form. That’s why so many college professors use slideshows to teach their lectures. They create an environment where it’s not as easy to get lost in all the spoken material. Slideshows also help the people who are taking notes know what information is most important to jot down.

3. Don’t Be the Only Speaker

No one enjoys meetings where all they do is sit and listen. Or, the only time they get to talk is by asking a question at the end. This is not engaging, nor is it productive in terms of communication.

To have an efficient meeting, you need conversation. Give others the chance to voice their concerns, opinions, or ask questions throughout the meeting. Have a welcoming attitude so they feel comfortable enough to speak when they want to. And, here’s a change – you should ask them questions. How do they feel about their projects? Do they have any concerns? There are many inquiries you can make. It shows you care about your team and what they have to say.

Additionally, you can share the stage with your team members. Assign topics of the meetings to project managers or those working on relevant assignments. Have them relay information to their fellow employees. It will create a more connected environment that shows everyone’s voice is valued.

Don’t Call Others Out

The fastest way to make an environment intimidating is to make a negative comment about someone in the audience. Condemning an employee for their late assignment, calling out someone who was wrong, and other similar situations reflect poorly. These are private concerns, and they should only be discussed between you and the person in question.

Keep the tone friendly by not focusing on the negatives. Just because you don’t appreciate someone’s work ethic does not make a group meeting the appropriate place to mention it. This can be very unprofessional. Don’t let the scary boss stereotype apply to you.

Have Some Fun with It

Meetings shouldn’t have to feel so rigid and dull. You can still be professional while giving a more lighthearted atmosphere during team discussions. The more friendly an environment your remote meetings are, the more comfortable your teammates will feel.

You’re allowed to stray from the topic of discussion a bit if it means you’re building a relationship with your employees. Try not to go on too much of a tangent, but if you notice your employee has a new haircut, go ahead and compliment them! It shows you notice and care.

Remember, successful meetings start with a goal in mind. What do you want to get out of this meeting? Know the purpose before you begin. Plan, make an agenda, communicate with others, and focus. Your efforts will be fruitful as long as you try.

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