Engage Employees for Better Virtual Meetings
There is no single correct way to conduct a meeting. Managers have their own styles and methods of presentation, and many of them have been practicing their forms for several years. The coming wave of video and collaboration technology may be sweeping them off their feet, though, because it is changing the nature of how employees meet with each other and how they expect to complete their work.
Both employees and managers are witnessing a sea change. Instead of attending and conducting meetings in person, they are attending and conducting through their mobile devices and workstations. How, then, do managers -- or any team leaders for that matter -- keep their constituents engaged when they cannot look them directly in the eyes?
A recent blog post from Blue Sky Innovation listed several tips for conquering the challenge that virtual meetings present. First and foremost, the post suggests that engagement is paramount, so once managers have properly scheduled their meetings and employees are all virtually present, everyone must remain attentive throughout.
Screenshares and direct video links are two ways in which managers can begin to reach out to their employees. Instead of simply speaking across a conference line, managers can show exactly what they are looking at by showing how they are manipulating their computer screens. If they are dissecting a spreadsheet that everyone has access to, for instance, they can show exactly which cells they are speaking about instead of just telling the group what is happening. When there is nothing to show on-screen, managers can show themselves and their employees speaking to each other. In either case, voices are matched up with words, and the presentation becomes more dynamic.
Blue Sky also suggests engaging employees by creating talking points they can follow during meetings. If they have a timeline, they will know where the meeting is headed and will know how to prepare for what comes ahead. Similarly, managers can extend the meetings past their official closing times by assigning responsibilities during meetings, such as taking minutes, and follow-up responsibilities such as posting minutes online.
Lastly, the number of participants in any one meeting can make or break its flow. If there are too few people, important information will not reach enough ears, but if there are too many people, things could become cluttered and too many voices may want to speak at once. Managers may want to disallow employees from muting their virtual connections -- therefore keeping them from multitasking -- but that measure could compound employee frustration if they are already buried under the voices of too many participants.
Edited by Adam Brandt