MY HOT TAKE: Make online meetings interesting, keep your audience engaged.
To say that online meetings have created a bit of apathy amongst users over the past 12 months would be an understatement.
Irrespective of whether you were accustomed to Teams, Skype or Zoom before the pandemic, it is safe to suggest, most of us are now. But engagement online is not just a case of rocking up to your desk and logging on. As delegates and speakers at our International Sales Growth Programme together with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International reminded us recently, it is equally important to prepare for an online meeting as it is to prepare for a face-to-face meeting. Of course, dress and presentation, body language (even online), and your background, is relevant. But so too is how to make the meeting interesting, memorable, and enjoyable. Some reflections last week pointed to some obvious yes pertinent ideas:
- Do your homework. You wouldn’t attend a face-to-face meeting without some degree of preparation and planning. For example, getting insight from others about who you are meeting, what they are like, how they like to engage (or not) in meetings, and their likely expectations of you. Online meetings are no different. Accommodating regional cultural nuances, corporate internal cultures and individual personalities can go a long way for setting yourself up properly and setting the right tone.
- You don’t need fancy or complicated ice breakers but asking how people are at the beginning of the meeting can help you understand their state of mind, their level of focus, how much time they have, and what they are expecting to get out of the meeting. It’s not difficult to get the answers to these questions. Just ask.
- You don’t always need a presentation. In fact, online, most of the time they can create an obstacle to relationship development. Think about how you might present your ideas without the PowerPoint aid and just how close you can get to someone by simply having a face to face (albeit online) conversation
- Sharing your screen might not be right if you have decided not to use a formal presentation but it’s a good way of informally sharing ideas – images, articles, news items you think other participants would be interested in – allowing them to engage, connect, comment, drive stimulus and debate and give you an understanding of their perspective.
We all want interesting, engaging, thought-provoking, fun and interesting days for as long as we sit behind our laptops. Put into your meetings thought, preparation and planning and I believe we will all get more out of them.