As more and more meetings go online, the world is learning what Silicon Valley has already known for a while now. Virtual meetings save time and money. However, with these savings come tradeoffs. The biggest one being that we just don’t engage with others in Zoom meetings as we did in face-to-face ones. This is a real problem for getting to know your colleagues and building alliances.
In-person meetings provide us stimuli that allow us to understand more clearly not only the information we are hearing but also the reactions of others to it. Like it or not, virtual meetings will be part of our post-shelter-in-place working life. Below are six tips to help you embrace and maybe even enjoy your virtual meeting experiences.
Schedule a social
All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl.
Meetings can be more than business. Try scheduling a virtual coffee break chat or happy hour. Informal gatherings like these allow you to get to know each other and explore a wider variety of solutions to challenges everyone is facing.
Start with a chat
There won’t be any donuts to incentivize you. But, taking a couple minutes to start with an informal discussion about interest, plans, and non-business topics will help everyone to get to know each other a little better and build a good rapport.
Nudge quiet folks to speak up with a private message.
There are always quiet people in the meeting, and encouraging them to speak up through a private message may help to raise their confidence to share their opinions. So remind them of the great idea that they explained to you the other day and ask them to share it with the group.
Be aware that a skilled facilitator will be able to see these comments. So keep a professional tone to them.
Sum up key points visually
Use the chat box to summarize important points of the discussion, capture deliverables, and share files relevant to the topic. That will help with comprehension of the points, especially important when not all participants have the same language skills. These notes will also be downloadable after the meeting. Which will save the minutes taker time in completing their report.
Encourage everybody to type questions into the chat box as they arise. There are two benefits to this. First, the speaker can quickly assess what is essential to the audience, making adjustments along the way. Second, participants can ensure they don’t forget their questions, improving the value of the talk for everybody.
Use pictographs 😀
A common complaint people have about virtual meetings is the inability to read non-verbal communication such as body language and tone of voice. Pictographs are a quick and easy way to react in a way that others can understand. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then pictographs are a priceless communication tool in virtual meetings.
Online meetings are about as similar to face-to-face meetings as TV is to the theater. So, don’t expect the same experience. It’s just different. We are only at the beginning of what will be possible in virtual meetings. Learn the technology, adjust your agendas, and experiment with new things. Incorporating social aspects and utilizing the chat box may turn you into a virtual meeting maven.
Here are three other resources for improving your online meetings