Energize Your Virtual Meetings

Home » Presentations and Communication » Energize Your Virtual Meetings

As Niina Nurmi and Satu Pakararinen noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, engagement in virtual meetings is declining. During the pandemic, it was necessary to use them, but at this point they are overloading most people.

Over the past few months, I’ve been supporting clients with insights on how to make all meetings – virtual and in-person – more efficient and effective. People want engaging, interactive meetings where the outcome is a sense of accomplishments: the group reaches an informed decision to act or not. As this article notes, too many virtual meetings are informative lectures, which just take too long and often don’t produce meaningful decisions. Here are simple ways to avoid this:

  • Step back and expand the framework for the meeting to include what goes into it (and can be done before people gather) and what actions take place afterwards (which enables people to feel it was meaningful.  This means 
    • Distributing crucial information before the meeting
    • Distributing an agenda which states the decision that the group wants to make and an estimate of time allotted to the discussion (which obviously can be changed based on need)
    • Mandating that people who attend have read/viewed the material and come with questions/comments
  • Keep meetings small ; research shows that small groups collaborate and solve problems better on average than large one
  • Shorten meetings and take breaks. Several companies are successfully reducing standard hour long meetings to 45 minutes, and weekly meetings even to 30 minutes.
  • Take a hard line about focusing on the meeting rather than multitasking. People forget that when they are looking away from the camera to attend to a computer or phone, others see that and it sends a disruptive message to those trying to advance the meeting purpose.
  • Keep cameras on for all participants. Research shows that engagement and alertness decrease by 23% when cameras are turned off. Encourage participation by phrasing questions to engage people by making comments, raising their hands or posting in the chat.

Calculate the total amount of time your group is spending in meetings and the cost of the people’s time in the meetings. Becoming aware of how large the cost is relative to the extent that it is engaging people and generating positive feelings for meetings, will encourage your group to adopt some of these tactics to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of meetings. Remember, the goal of the meetings is to energize people and elevate the quality of decision-making in the company for greater satisfaction and profits!