How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Virtual Meetings
With the pandemic moving the world to all things digital overnight, business leaders have been forced into leading their teams via video conferencing. But technology is not the same as being together in person for meetings. Though being virtual has many benefits, it has necessitated many of us to multitask, dividing our attention among our other activities. Is your team attendance inconsistent? Do only a few members participate and engage? Overcome team members who are disengaged during video conference meetings with these tips.
One way to engage your group is with pre-assigned roles. One such role is the CFO, or Chief Fun Officer. The CFO is responsible for the fun in the group. They can choose ice breakers or play a theme song at the start of every meeting. Let the CFO's imagination run wild with ways to have fun during a Zoom call, then let the fun begin!
The COO, or Chief Organizational Officer, is responsible for taking notes during the meeting. These should include any unanswered questions, special requests, urgent needs, ideas discussed, attendance and any other important matters that come up. They should follow up with a recap to the team afterward.
Assign a CEO, or Chief Events Officer, to assist the team leader on upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, life events and so on. The team leader should work with the CEO to determine upcoming birthdays and special occasions, then make sure to recognize those individuals during the meeting.
Before your next team meeting, ask specific team members individually whether they would like to have an assigned role. Instead of letting them pick their role, I find it works best if I identify the role first. For example, I might ask a person who is timid to be the CFO. They always have the option to say yes or no, but you're giving them permission to step outside their comfort zone.
Roles should be rotated weekly to allow everyone to experience each position. Your team members may even realize strengths they didn’t know they had.
Three ways to keep engagement and attendance high
1. Build consistency. Try to consistently keep the same date, time and format as before. If your weekly team meeting is every Monday at 9 a.m., stick to that schedule as much as possible (people love habit and routine). And just as it was when you met in the office, it’s important for every team member to attend so everyone is on the same page and gets the same information. Just as before, if the meeting has to be rescheduled or changed, members should adjust their schedules accordingly.
2. Communicate in different ways. Each of us communicates differently. Some prefer phone calls or texts; others prefer email. Do all three! Before your team meeting:
Send an email with agenda highlights, the date and time of the meeting, and maybe even an encouraging or motivating quote or meme.
Send a text when you send the email.
Send a calendar invite.
If you see that someone hasn't replied or accepted the meeting, try giving them a phone call.
3. Send reminders and follow-ups. It's easy to forget about a virtual meeting when there are so many distractions as we work from home. There have been times that I had every intention of joining a meeting but got distracted. Then I realized, “Oh, no, I missed the meeting.” To avoid this, my advice is to send a reminder the day before your meeting, one hour before the meeting, and a “We’re on Now” email or text with all the relevant information as the meeting begins.
Maybe your team didn't used to need reminders or follow-ups, or maybe you are not comfortable doing so, but making sure everyone is on the same page is best for everyone involved. That being said, it's a fine line between follow-up and micromanaging. Make sure your follow-ups are quick and simple, and make sure your team members know that you're trying to keep the team up to par, prepared, and ready to rock.