Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of our personal as well as professional lives, working has never been the same. Board room meetings & weekly team meetings were replaced by online meetings, conferences, & remote video meetings.
While virtual meetings might sound a little confusing at first, they are actually a boon for most businesses during these times of uncertainty.
In view of extended work-from-home guidelines for most businesses, virtual meetings have become the norm in many workplaces.
They help team members keep in touch with each other during work hours, team leaders keep a track of how well the work is happening across the floor, project managers get an idea about if the work is on track or not, & vendors & clients get in touch with their respective delivery teams about the status of their projects.
While the usefulness of virtual meetings has never been in question, conference organizers are torn about how to make virtual meetings & conferences more engaging, interactive, & productive.
Without the physical presence of people under the same roof, it becomes difficult to clearly understand & communicate with each other.
Meeting organizers & companies are always looking for ways to increase the productivity of virtual meetings & to make them more communicative & smooth.
In this article, we tell you the top 10 powerful tips to ensure that your virtual meetings are highly productive for everyone attending.
Use a good & interactive virtual conference platform
The choice of virtual meeting software that you use can actually be the defining factor for the success of your virtual conference or meeting.
Try to choose a virtual meeting platform that has collaborative features like live chats, discussion rooms, raise-a-hand functionality, Q&A feature, live stream ability, high-quality session recording facility, as well as backups for any chats or discussions going on in the virtual meeting discussion threads so that other attendees that joined, later on, can easily follow along in the conversations.
These platforms also provide a lot of other interactive features like live video presentations, 3D avatars, high-quality audio & video enhancements, colorful, customizable backgrounds, beautification features, document & screen sharing abilities, enhanced presentation features, etc.
Selecting the right virtual meeting platform helps your virtual meetings become much more interactive, engaging, & productive by employing the right kind of features.
Define your agenda beforehand
Your virtual meeting will progress a lot smoother if you define an agenda before beginning the meeting & inviting the attendees.
After all, you have already invested a lot of time in putting together the virtual meeting with all of its engaging features & options, inviting attendees to be a part of the meeting, & setting up various roles & responsibilities.
It’s best not to spend any more time defining the agenda of the meeting during the meeting itself.
Thus, having the agenda figured out well before time can actually help you a lot in keeping your online meetings short, timely, & uncomplicated.
Also ensure that once you have your agenda planned & sorted out, you actually share it with the attendees too. That way, they can also be kept in the loop about the actual reason for the meeting & what all is about to be discussed.
Try including some icebreaker activities
This is especially important if you’re hosting a virtual meeting that has the entire office in it. There will inevitably be new employees joining the online meeting, along with all the old ones, & some new announcements to make.
Try to precede all of this with some icebreaker activities that help the attendees interact with each other, get to know each other better, & trust each other.
You can include activities like quick 15-second introductions, 1:1 video chats for a certain amount of time, fun questionnaires about the new joiners & the company itself, some fun anecdotes about the company, & even plain introductions from the entire staff present, to help break some ice before getting on with the actual meeting.
Doing so will help loosen up the attendees & open their minds, as well as make the new joiners of the organization much less shy & able to speak up more.
All this will eventually help make the entire virtual meeting smoother, more seamless, engaging, interactive, & productive.
Have everybody introduce themselves
There is nothing worse than having to talk to people that have no name or face to them in our minds.
Humans are historically able to connect with others better when they can see & hear them physically.
This is why virtual meetings were met with such cynicism from the corporate sector in the very beginning, as people thought they wouldn’t be able to recreate the feeling of a physical meeting in the first place.
However, once virtual meetings ascended those expectations, the next thing to do was only to make them more personalized, so to speak.
One way you can make online meetings feel more personal & less formal is by beginning the virtual meeting with small, petite introductions from all the attendees.
The more fun & dynamic you make these introductions, the more chances you have of engaging your audience for a longer period of time, possibly even through the entire virtual meeting.
Make meetings interactive & engaging
It is no surprise that online meetings make for tough sitting. Virtual meetings, where you don’t get to see other attendees physically, can be even more boring to attend.
Thus breaking the monotony of the constant chatter by introducing some fun, interactive elements to the meeting is the way forward to make the online meetings more engaging & productive.
You can include activities like fun virtual games, live polls on something discussed during the discussion, & also have some fun visual elements & other lively elements to add more excitement to your virtual meeting.
You can also ask your attendees to make a mind map of any of the topics being discussed in the virtual meeting, & brainstorm ideas & next steps to take around that.
All this helps make your virtual meetings much more exciting & fun to attend for your attendees, & increase their productivity as well.
Use dynamic presentations instead of static power points
Talk about being a bit of a turn-off during any kind of meeting, & the name of static PowerPoint presentations will fare on the top of that list.
Nobody likes to sit through a grueling meeting with static PowerPoint presentations designed with flat visuals.
It just isn’t very appealing for anyone to watch, or engage with, for that matter.
Instead, try more fun & dynamic presentations with slides that use interactive & innovative elements to drive home the point.
If needed, get professional help in designing your presentation for the meeting to make it as impactful & interactive as possible.
Try to include more fun animations, motion graphics, fun & interactive 3D mockups or avatars, high-quality audio, & other elements to make the presentation stand out visually as well as informatically.
This will not only help you get your point across quite emphatically with the help of beautiful, impactful visuals on your side but also keep your attendees engaged & interested in the virtual meeting throughout.
Begin the meeting with small talk/ask everyone how they are doing
In these uncertain & fairly scary times, there is nothing worse than having to deal with insensitive, uninformed people that don’t know anything about you at all.
Try to maintain a cordial, familiar atmosphere in your virtual meetings by beginning the meeting with small talk & asking everyone how they are.
If time allows, you should do this individually, rather than a mass greeting that is directed at no one in particular.
Doing this helps ensure that you treat your attendees with kindness & empathy, rather than just being all about business with them.
Not just that, taking care of your attendees by asking them how they are doing & making conversation with them is also a good way to ensure that your attendees have an open mind throughout the meeting & are more receptive to your ideas.
It also helps them be more efficient & productive during the entire meeting.
Keep your online meetings short
Nobody likes to attend overly long meetings that stretch beyond an hour or two.
Even though we are all at home, people still have very short attention spans, & have lots of distractions in the home environment.
Thus, organizing online meetings longer than 40-50 minutes (or up to an hour) in length is a sure way to lose the attention & interest of your attendees by huge margins.
Try to keep online meetings short, concise, & get to the point of the meeting quickly without beating around the bush a lot.
Skipping to point 2 above, having a well-defined agenda, in the beginning, can actually help a lot in keeping the meeting short & sweet.
You can also try to set a meeting flow that includes all the topics being covered in the duration of the meeting, along with the allotted time to each of them.
You can also share this meeting flow with all of the other attendees to help them get an idea of what the meeting will be about & how long it will take to get through all of the topics.
Send post-meeting notes
This is a very important step to ensure the productivity of the virtual meeting. After your meeting has concluded, with all the topics & issues having been discussed, it’s now time to send out concise, to-the-point notes with actionable insights targeted at each member of the meeting.
These notes will help each member understand exactly what is expected of them after the meeting, & what they need to do in order to achieve their goals or expectations.
Doing this will help ensure that your meetings are as productive as you set out to make them in the first place.
Conduct a detailed review of the meeting
Just like how after a physical, in-person meeting, you’ll ask everybody attending to tell you if they liked the meeting, or had more clarity than before about the issues at hand, it’s important to do the same with virtual meetings as well.
After the meeting, send out personalized reviews & feedback forms to all of your attendees to enable them to share any feedback on the meeting with you.
You can also do this at the time of closing the meeting, by scheduling time for a session that takes in questions & any feedback from the attendees regarding the meeting just concluded.
Doing so will help ensure that you actually take into account the sentiments of your attendees, which in turn gives you a lot of valuable information about the strong points & the shortcomings of your meetings.
You can easily utilize this information for your next virtual meeting as well.