Here’s a few tips to get the most out of online meetings.
In these Corona virus times, those of us who can work from home is increasingly depending on online meetings. A big problem is that this remote setting tends to distance us from the meeting itself.
Getting people to pay full attention in any meetings is already hard. When we work from different locations and don’t share the same room, the level of engagement naturally drops. Face to face eye contact is lost, and we no longer feel the obligation to stay focused in the same way, according to researchers Justin Hale and Joseph Grenny.
There are however a few tricks they recommend. After studying the topic of virtual meetings for five years, they found that success comes from creating structured opportunities so that attendees can fully engage. In other words, it´s all about creating voluntary engagement:
There are four broad reasons to hold a meeting: to influence others, to make decisions, to solve problems, or to strengthen relationships. Since all of these are active processes, passive passengers in a meeting rarely do quality work.
Here are their five tips:
The 60-second rule: The group needs to feel the problem before they can solve it. Dedicate 60 seconds in the start to this. It could be sharing a story from a frustrated customer, or triggering emotions by analogies. Your goal here is to make the group empathetically understanding the situation/problem.
The responsibility rule: When people get your meeting invite, they most likely already take on the role as an observer and not an active contributor. In stead of asking them during the meeting to take active part (that rarely works), create an opportunity where they can take a meaningful responsibility. How? See next point.
The nowhere to hide rule: Human psychology is fascinating; if everyone is responsible, no-one shows responsibility – as seen if someone falls ill in a public setting. Social psychology refer to this phenomenon as diffusion of responsibility. Placing this within a virtual meeting setting, people should be assigned tasks that are solved during that meeting. It could be in groups or separately, and their answers could be typed in the chat function or shared with the team as you go along. In this way, team members can actively engage and feel more committed.
The MVP rule: To keep attendees focused, you must mix facts with stories, not just heavy data. This subconsciously makes us more alert. You also need to assess the Minimum Viable PowerPoint deck (or other presentation/information) material you need to share, to get your point across.
The 5-minute rule: Never go more than 5 minutes without making the group solve a problem or share their input/views. If you don’t expect meaningful involvement, attendees easily glide back to their observer roles and it can be hard to bring them back.
As Hale and Grenny rightfully state; our minds are free to wonder, and virtual meetings will most likely amplify that. By creating this active engagement, the online setting will hopefully be far more productive than it could have been.
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