Ask any professional living in the “new normal” of COVID 19, and they’ll say they’re TIRED of all these virtual meetings. I’ve had friends tell me that they’re physically and mentally drained at the end of the day and that getting people to engage during an online meeting is tricky. Over the last year, I’ve trained over 2000 people virtually across the globe and I’ve learnt a few Ninja tips and tricks that could help you to be more engaging, as well as your audience.
Here are 10 simple tips that will help, however, the change has to start with you:
- Get energised yourself – If I’m feeling flat, I do ANY exercise to get the blood pumping, my favourite is pushups. However, going for a walk or a gym session can help. You need oxygen in your brain and energy in your body.
- Turn on the webcam – Tell people in the invite that this is a WEBCAM ON session, set the expectation in your communication and emails that this is how the meeting will run.
- Show up early – Turn your webcam on and engage everyone as they join. Just a simple “Hello and welcome” could suffice. If you’re feeling up to it, ask questions and start interacting with your guests – you can’t do this if you’re late to your own meeting!
- Read the room – Pick up on something in a member of the audience and ask them about it; for instance, you could say, “I love your headset, where did you get it from?” If you lead by example others will follow – YOU need to embody ‘engaging’!
- Create warmth with your tone of voice – I would say a 20% smile with a little extra volume and a nice playful speaking melody. Speaking melody is the opposite of monotony. If you start your welcomes with a monotonous voice and no smile, you’ve already lost your audience. Your voice is a tool and an instrument, use it wisely to motivate, move and hook an audience.
- Get the audience DOING something – Like answering a poll and get them responding to you or doing something else 5 minutes into the presentation. You DO NOT want to talk for 20min, 30min without getting some sort of involvement. The rule of thumb is some sort of interaction every 3-5 minutes.
- Do a poll early on – ZOOM makes polling easy, MS Teams allows you to create polls on the fly, you could also try www.mentimeter.com
- Ask questions – During the session, use the chat feature to ask your audience questions. You need to have multiple channels open so that shy people can also communicate.
- Get a third party to read the room – Have a producer during the session to help facilitate the technical issues and read the room. They’ll need to see who is listening and who isn’t. If someone looks bored or uninterested, perhaps ask their opinion on something.
- Close the meeting with a poll – And ask for quantitative and qualitative feedback. That way you can continuously improve for the next meeting!
There are many more things that you can do, however, it is always best to practise with the tools available and to lead by example. At the very least, do a simple opening and closing poll to get people doing something. We’re all relatively new to this, but in a year’s time, it’ll be 2nd nature!