Virtual meetings have been around for a while but now, more than ever, they’re becoming more common than their in-person variants. And while they’re not all bad, they do present some unique challenges that can make them less engaging, tolerable or bearable than an in-person meeting, especially if you don’t take steps to address those.
One major challenge of the modern virtual meeting is how to make your virtual meetings more interactive. Nobody wants to stare blankly at their computer screen for hours on end, as the host shares their screen and painstakingly reads through slide after slide on a seemingly endless PowerPoint presentation. And as a host, you don’t want to bore your attendees or make them regret calling in. In order to make virtual meetings more like real life, we think there are a couple of easy steps you can take.
As hosts we want our attendees to actively participate in the meetings, engage with the content, and to leave the meeting having learned something. All of these goals can be achieved by some simple steps to make your virtual meetings more interactive.
- Set expectations beforehand
Ensure that everyone knows when and where the meeting will take place (make sure you include the meeting link in the invite) and make sure that you send a quick reminder beforehand (an appointment scheduling tool like AppointmentThing can automate the process of sending meeting or appointment reminder emails). Make sure both you and your attendees know what will be discussed – set a brief agenda outlining all the important topics to be covered.
- Be realistic about the duration and taking breaks
A general rule of thumb for virtual meetings is that they should be half as long as their in-person counterparts, and take twice as many breaks. Virtual meetings can be exhausting, especially when you are attending them all day long.
- Start with introductions
Set aside 5 minutes at the start of the meeting for introductions. It doesn’t have to be a long discussion, just a brief chat. Encourage others to speak up and introduce themselves (if the group is small enough), or at a minimum introduce the main participants in the discussion.
- Encourage comments or questions throughout the meeting
The traditional meeting in the past had a host presenting, and then time for questions at the end. However, this can stifle discussion and people will lose interest or forget their questions by the time it rolls around to the last 10 minutes. A more sensible approach is to encourage questions and comments throughout your meeting. Encourage people to ask questions in the moment, as they come to mind, rather that keeping to the end. If the question is about something that you plan on covering later, just tell them, and ask them to bring up the question again when you reach that topic. Avoid open ended questions (“Does anyone have any questions about this?”) and instead ask specific, directed questions, that facilitate discussions rather than putting people on the spot (“What are you hearing from your clients?”)
- Take advantage of the latest technology
If you’re not taking advantage of the latest technology to make your virtual meetings more interactive, you haven’t a chance of making people participate. Ditch PowerPoint, put your Google Slides away, and for the last time, stop sharing your screen. What makes virtual meetings really interactive, is using tools where everyone can play along, participate and interact with you as the host, and with each other.
Some of our favourite tools for virtual meetings include:
- Miro: a fantastic, easy to learn, interactive whiteboard that multiple users can edit simultaneously
- Breakout rooms: all the major video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and GoToMeeting are now offering breakout rooms functionality. which allows you to bunch your large group into smaller discussions which can make people more comfortable in sharing their perspective and allows groups to work on specific tasks independently.
- AppointmentThing: Using an appointment scheduling tool to facilitate your virtual meeting is a must! From appointment reminders to make sure everyone turns up on time, to meeting buffers, which ensures that you won’t get burnt out by continuous meetings, there are so many ways in which an appointment scheduling app can make your life so much easier.
AppointmentThing is the easiest way to schedule remote meetings and virtual appointments. By automating and simplifying many of the time consuming steps of hosting and arranging your meetings and appointments, an appointment scheduling tool like AppointmentThing frees up your time to prepare for an effective and truly interactive virtual meeting. Our solution puts you back in control of your own calendar and helps you be more effective when communicating with clients, collaborators and leads. Simply define your availability with time buffers, various meeting types and more. Share a link to your booking page with contacts and allow them to schedule meetings with you in seconds.
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