For many companies around the world, running virtual meetings is the only way to manage cross-team communication. But there are multiple challenges that come with attending meetings online.
Remote workers often tend to zone out or feel excluded from the conversation unless they’re compelled to actively participate. As a company that runs hybrid meetings all the time, we know a thing or two about it.
There is, however, a number of ways to make sure that doesn’t happen and secure the best experience for your remote teammates.
Let us run you through some of the best tools and facilitation techniques that work for us at Slido.
We believe they will help make your virtual meetings better and more valuable for your remote colleagues.
Double-check the AV setup
First, you have to make sure the tech doesn’t fail you. So before you kick off your meeting, make sure everything works like a well-oiled machine.
Pick a quality live streaming tool
If you’re running virtual meetings or hybrid meetings, finding a reliable and easy-to-use tool with great video and sound quality is everything. At Slido, we use Zoom. It’s super easy to set up and has always worked flawlessly for us.
Its feature Breakout Rooms allows you to split your meeting into 50 separate sessions, excellent for running small group discussions and virtual brainstorming.
For the best experience, make sure everyone in the room can see their remote colleagues on a big screen. At Slido, we also have a camera set up in the room to stream what’s happening in our headquarters to bring the meeting closer to everyone online.
Always start the conference call a few minutes early so your remote colleagues have enough time to join and set things up on their end before the meeting officially starts.
Ensure people online can hear you well
Imagine how frustrating it must be for your remote workers to join a meeting and not understand what’s happening because they can’t hear a word. That’s why it’s crucial that you test your sound properly before the meeting starts.
Jabra offers a range of office speakerphones that are excellent for hybrid meetings. With larger groups, we use the soft throwable microphone, Catchbox, to transmit the sound from the audience in the room.
We often run a quick thumbs up check so we’re 100% sure all works as it should.
Welcome your online participants
While your online colleagues are joining the meeting, always give them a warm welcome and encourage them to participate.
In larger meetings with 10+ people online, you can’t always see everyone who’s joined so it’s good practice to start a meeting by going through the list of people on the call and greeting them by name to let everyone know they are there.
To break the ice, you can get people to share their news, weekend stories or holiday plans. And don’t forget to keep addressing your online colleagues repeatedly during the meeting and inviting them to share their thoughts or ideas.
Encourage people to turn on their cameras
When people online join without video, it’s easy to forget that they’re there. For that reason, try to nudge your remote teams into turning their cameras on by saying something like, “I can’t see you on the screen, why don’t you turn on your camera? Everyone here would love to see you.”
Seeing people’s faces and reactions helps the ones in the room be more aware of the online teams’ presence and leads them to interact with their remote colleagues more. It also makes the meeting more personal for both sides and helps you lead richer discussions.
Give your remote colleagues a voice
It can be difficult for the people online to jump in the discussion that’s happening in the room. Help your colleagues feel included by addressing them directly and encouraging them to chip in with their comments or ideas.
Try calling on a person and asking them a specific question because sometimes just asking “Do you guys online have any comments on this?” can end in dead silence.
During larger meetings, we also have a dedicated facilitator for our remote teams whose role is to engage our remote colleagues and drive discussions among them.
For example, if people in the room are asked to discuss something in pairs, the online facilitator will either ask questions to the online team or encourage them to talk to each other and discuss the given topic.
Collect questions throughout the meeting
Another way to ensure everybody – online or in the room – has an equal chance to contribute to the discussion is to crowdsource questions via a Q&A tool.
Particularly with larger meetings (20+), people might be shy to jump in and ask a question, especially when they’re joining the meeting remotely.
Crowdsourcing questions through an app such as Slido allows you to create a safe space for all your colleagues to send in their questions at any time during the meeting, even anonymously.
Have the moderator or the online facilitator keep an eye on the incoming questions, review them and make sure they get answered, either continuously throughout the meeting or at the end during the Q&A session.
Use live polls to re-engage your online teams
Once the meeting is underway, keep re-engaging your remote colleagues so they don’t zone out. Using live polls every 10-15 minutes will help you stop that from happening.
You can run many different polls, such as rating, word cloud, multiple choice or open text polls and have people vote or submit their insights in real-time. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ways you can use live polls.
Fire a poll every 10-15 minutes to pull people back in and collect their insights. You can check if people are following the meeting and understand the main points. Or you can simply use them to break the ice and have fun.
The best thing about live polling is that anyone can participate, from anywhere in the world which makes it the perfect engagement technique for virtual meetings.
Don’t forget to always follow up on the results of the poll and set them in the context of your meeting.
Extra tip: Run an online quiz and involve your remote teams with a friendly competition. With Slido Quizzes you can create your quiz in just a couple of minutes, and host a quick quiz session during your meeting. It’s a fun way to boost team spirit and make your online colleagues feel included.
To wrap it up
With the right tools and facilitation techniques, you can make your virtual meetings more valuable and fun for your colleagues who work remotely.
We hope these tips will help you actively engage your online participants and build an online environment where they feel safe to speak up and actively participate.