Given the current economic woes, virtual meetings are beginning to look more attractive. Web meetings not only enable companies to slash travel costs and go green, but they also can boost productivity.
In reality, many professionals have no idea how to run effective and engaging online meetings. A new survey conducted by Infoexcellence.com found that two-thirds of all workers say virtual meetings can be boring and plagued with technical glitches. Consequently, meeting attendees tune out, surf the web or check email. Not surprisingly, productivity plummets.
Try these five ideas to keep attendees engaged and encourage contributions during web meetings. Make It Colorful
A teleconference is like meeting in black and white. Help participants be visually stimulated by upgrading phone meetings to colorful web conferences. Use charts, slide presentations and compelling photos to build interest and reinforce main points.
- Quick tip: Create a stronger bond with participants by incorporating team photos into virtual meetings (e.g., place a professional headshot of the presenter on the cover slide).
Invite participants to use the public chat feature to provide insights and feedback. This sends the message to participants that their opinions matter—and they should focus and contribute. Younger, tech-savvy workers are accustomed to using chat to communicate. It also reduces meeting time because the speaker isn’t interrupted every time someone wants to make a point.
Be a ScreenWriter
- Quick tip: Use the chat feature as a rapid polling tool and idea generator (e.g., ask attendees to list the No. 1 obstacle to getting more done on the job).
Participants will be more engaged if the screen is alive with movement and color. Try incorporating web conferencing tools that allow the presenter to highlight key points by drawing or typing on the web meeting screen.
Create Instant Surveys
- Quick tip: The next time a document reflects an employee’s great work, draw an exclamation point on the screen.
Surveys are easy to create, make meetings fun and provide lots of useful information. For example, create questions specific to the meeting’s purpose, or try a general question such as: What would make our meetings more effective?
Prevent Technical Glitches
- Quick tip: Pose an open-ended question early on to test the survey tool (e.g., who will win the big game tonight?).
Being prepared helps prevent technical disasters. Create a cheat sheet that lists key features, simple fixes, and support and account information for all virtual meeting technology. For example, include instructions on how to mute all phone lines.
By becoming a virtual meeting virtuoso, coworkers and clients will be happy—and even inspired—to participate at a more meaningful level.