Let’s be honest, we all have been a part of those meetings that are just a drag. They don’t have to be either, so I asked everyone their best tips to make a virtual meeting more enjoyable. Here are 11 ways to improve your next virtual meeting from the experts.
1. Get Me Out Of Here Syndrome
Keep it short and keep it concise. What I have come across quite frequently are people that just wish they were over sooner.
So, how do you do that? You tighten it up, make sure to trim the fat of too much small talk or “group activities” and get to the point. The “get in, get out” approach may not be for everybody, but most people would rather get to the point than to hear about how everyone’s week went trying to homeschool their children, or who took up a new hobby, or who got a new pet.
Many people get very anxious as well on these types of calls. The videos can lag, which means jokes or group activities don’t always work, which can heighten feelings of anxiety and confusion which can lead to a sense of dread for every call.
2. Enter the Sandman
When there’s a brainstorming session where members need to contribute ideas, pause the meeting, and play some music or song in the background. When the melody ends, everyone reconvenes and shares their input. Mix it up with a new song every time; it can be any music, from the Jeopardy theme to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
Silence in a meeting can be awkward and is something that we’ve been taught to avoid. However, moments of pause can be good if used with a purpose. Plus, the music in the background keeps it from getting too quiet.
-Glen Wilde, CEO & Founder of Diet to Success
3. Two Truths and a Lie
While Zoom has its benefits, the fact that it is virtual can start to cause problems with your team’s cohesiveness. Therefore, one thing we started to employ in our team meetings was a quick game of “Two Truths and a Lie.” Each meeting, we feature a different person in the meeting, and they give us two truths and a lie and we have to guess which is the lie. This has helped to kickstart our meetings with everyone engaged and has helped to build camaraderie.”
– Dave, Kindlepreneur
4. Shark Attack
On Zoom, we encourage our team to think of funny backgrounds to use. The other week, someone put one of the sharks about to eat them, in honor of Shark Week on Discovery Channel. They lighten the mood, allow people to show their creativity, and create some good laughs during the meeting. Moreover, we’ve seen this be a catalyst for people to bring more energy to the meeting.
5. The First Rule of Breakout Rooms, You Don’t Talk About Breakout Rooms
Put people into breakout rooms and ask them to find one thing they have in common. Appoint a spokesperson for each group and report back to the larger group.
6. Ask and You Shall Receive
Ask team members what they want the Zoom meeting to be like. Don’t just assume that you know how to fix the problem. Everyone may think virtual meetings are boring, but for different reasons. Don’t switch things up without actually having evidence that the change is what others want.
Consider the Zoom call as one long, unfolding story, not a series of goals to meet, but an overall plot arc. Arrange the meeting topics so that they build on each other like a choose your own adventure story. Meeting pieces should fit together, flowing into the bigger picture. Learning about scripts and storytelling then applying that to meetings is a fun way to keep workers engaged all the way to end.
7. The Andrew Yang Method
Turn data into stories. Many times, as entrepreneurs, we have to present a long list of data points – either metrics on how our latest marketing campaign went, our sales records, or other key performance indicators.
A non-stop barrage of numbers quickly will descend into a room of glassy-eyed zoned out employees. So, we have to learn how to turn data into stories instead of just talking figures tell the story of the customer and how their life improved.
– Austin, This Unicorn Life
8. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
A very simple but straightforward approach to dramatically improve your next virtual meeting is by ending the meeting with Wins and Asks.
What was a big win for the week, day, or even this meeting? And what would you like or need help with? This gets everyone buying into the meeting, sharing positive events, and asking for help.
– Kaitlyn, Nav.It
9. 8% is All You Need
The company at Teambuilding.com suggests the 8% Rule. Any Zoom meeting should have at least 8% of its time dedicated to non-meetings activities. This time could include icebreakers, trivia questions, dance breaks, or any other light activity. This “off-time” can quickly reenergize attendees to participate in the more dense content of the meeting
10. The Pre Meeting Ritual
Every athlete has a ritual for optimum performance. Virtual speaking engagements shouldn’t be any different. Have a pre-meeting ritual!
To get over the anxiety before a big meeting and to appear a bit more relaxed, Ruggero calls someone he’s comfortable and friendly with for a quick chat. “Sometimes, I even tell them I have an important meeting coming up. We banter, catch up for a few minutes, maybe joke a little. And by the time the conversation ends, I feel very relaxed and warm. When I say ‘goodbye’ and go off to my Zoom meeting, I imagine I’m really bringing the other person into my previous conversation. This might sound silly, but it helps me get over my meeting anxiety.”
11. The Kid Wrangler
One of the hardest parts of Zoom calls is not the call itself but the small children ever running around your ankles. Tom Wills has an interesting solution: “I’ve got a whiteboard on the wall behind where I sit, which I get my kids to draw a backdrop on. Clients think it’s fun and it’s kept my kids busy during the lockdown.”
Everyone seems to have their own trick, technique, or strategy. Let us know what yours is in the comments, and I’ll feature you in the next round.