Module 10: Strategies for Making Your In-Person and Virtual Meetings More Engaging 

8 great ways to engage your audience whether in-person or online.

Stay Positive

Earlier in this course we mentioned that you should create the energy you want in a facilitation session. This is especially true in meetings, where your positivity can go a long way in producing results. Negative body language or speech from other participants can derail a meeting. If you have issues with particular members, set up another meeting to deal with them so that you can stick to the topic at-hand when everyone else is present.

You can work positivity into your meeting rules. If you have certain attendees who are consistently negative or often shut down meetings, you can create a 2-to-1 rule. This rule states that you can only say one negative after two positives. This helps people focus on the positive.

Stand Up

Standing is a simple trick that can give your meeting a higher energy level. By standing, you show that your meeting should be short and to the point. It’s also a good way to stretch and get your blood flowing. You can stand for virtual meetings as well for the same effect.

Equal Participation

Every person in your meeting should contribute. Make this an explicit expectation ahead of time. One way to help facilitate equal participation is to rotate the seating arrangement.

Specialty Topics

You can spice up your meetings by adding relevant additional updates, related but more light-hearted topics, or guest speakers. For example, a team member who went for a special training session could give a 5-minute update telling your meeting participants their takeaways. This adds a special “corner” to your meeting that creates a bit of variety.

Voting

When decisions are being made, we often announce the decision and then ask if there are objections. Unless a participant has a particularly strong objection, they’re not likely to offer any sort of opinion. But when you take it to a vote, everyone has to participate. You can take votes on decisions and then ask participants to explain why they voted a certain way to facilitate a discussion.

Praise

Celebrate the successes of your members and always offer praise when it’s due. Publicly recognize the achievements of your team members.

Feedback

Without using up too much of your attendees’ time, ask them to provide feedback in the form of a quick summary or suggestions to improve your meetings. Use this information to adjust your meetings in the future.

Offer Snacks

People love snacks. Offer snacks and coffee, especially if the meeting is in the middle of the morning or afternoon. For one thing, this will get more people to come to the meeting. It will also set people at ease and create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Special Tips for Virtual Conference Calls

Many of the tips above also apply to conference calls, but since conference calls are done virtually, there are some special tips to make them as engaging as possible.

Conference calls offer a convenient way to manage relationships, manage projects, or to provide important updates to teams or clients both internally and externally. The major problem with conference calls is that people are often multitasking when they perform them. They feel it’s okay to check up on email or file reports while they listen. That means you may not have your participants’ fullest attention. So, using your facilitation skills to engage everyone is essential.

Virtual Methods

Although most companies use VoIP services such as Skype for conference calls, some companies still use the old telephone method. If you’re using a phone for your calls, the first thing to do is switch to VoIP. VoIP programs have many special features that are useful for engagement. VoIP also tends to be more cost-effective, you can watch participants through video, you can share your screen, and it can be done through a mobile phone or other devices.

Because of the challenge of maintaining attention and the need for contributions from all members, establish good Q&A on your teleconference calls. Let participants know ahead of time that you expect them to ask questions. Model this behavior by asking questions throughout your call and taking breaks for Q&A time.

Take full advantage of interactive features such as Google Drive’s cloud tools that allow participants to work inside documents and see progress live. For group work, some programs allow you to split up a meeting and then come back together later to share your results.

Learning Activity

  1. Identify the most important conference calls and/or meetings you need to conduct. They could be internal team meetings, calls with clients, meetings with contractors, etc. 
  2. What types of conference calls and meetings do you have right now? Review these for relevancy and eliminate/ shorten/ consolidate those that fall below a 7 out of 10.  
  3. For the conference calls and meetings that remain, go through the attendee list. Are all the attendees critical? Can you provide info via email and keep your attendee list shorter?
  4. From the engagement strategies section of the module, what are 3 tactics you can use to make your meetings more fun and engaging?
  5. What are 3 tips from the module that you can start using right away to improve your in-person meetings?
  6. What are 3 tips from the module that you can start using right away to improve your virtual meetings?
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Todd McCall

Instructor

I help practices who are marketing professional services get the attention they deserve by developing an online presence that converts visitors into clients.

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