Engagement is an essential part of a productive virtual meeting. But meeting engagement can be difficult to quantify and even harder to create. In this post, we’ll break down six best practices you can use to make your virtual meetings better.
Have you ever run a virtual meeting and wondered if anyone was paying attention? Have you ever wrapped your meeting by asking for questions, only to hear the silence? When you spend an hour talking into a computer screen, it can feel impossible to know if the event engaged viewers.
Engagement is everything in a virtual environment. It increases meeting productivity and determines whether attendees are finding value or wasting an hour of their time. The good news is there are ways to identify whether a virtual meeting is engaging. And there are six best practices you can use to create engagement.
But first, we need to define exactly what we’re talking about.
What Is Virtual Meeting Engagement?
A virtual meeting is engaging when a high percentage of people participate in some sort of activity, like planning, brainstorming, or collaborative notetaking.
There are two tells for when a meeting is not engaging:
- A presenter asks for questions at the end, and there are no questions. This means no one listened
- 10% or more of participants don’t log off on time. This is because they stopped paying attention a while ago.
In contrast, there are four signs of good meeting engagement:
- Strong dialogue
- Strong collaboration
- Strong polling
- Strong chat
Defining engagement in these terms – with metrics that are trackable in your virtual environment – makes it easy to evaluate whether or not your meeting is productive.
Creating an Engaging Virtual Meeting: 6 Best Practices
People only engage in a meeting if they have a purpose for being there, a clear actionable outcome they’re working towards. The following best practices make that possible.
Offer a Clear Value Proposition
One great way to do this is to include a clear value proposition in the name of your event. This will give attendees a clear incentive to show up and participate. Think of it this way: who wouldn’t participate in an event called “5 Steps to Getting a Raise This Year”? While your subject matter might not be this direct, it gives an idea of how directly communicating benefits contributes to engagement.
Keep Slides to a Minimum
In addition to communicating benefits, presentation design is also focused on creating space for engagement. During a presentation, it can be tempting to try and cover as many slides as the time allows. But really, the way to create engagement is to design a deck with as few slides as possible.
An engaging meeting is not a 35-minute meeting with 45 slides. It’s a 35-minute meeting with five slides and strong dialogue. If you have to read 95 slides for compliance purposes, you can’t have engagement.
Follow the 20/20/20 Rule
When designing your meeting, a good guideline is the 20/20/20 rule. For every hour of the meeting, you should aim for 20 minutes of presentation, 20 minutes of collaboration, and 20 minutes of questions.
This guideline will help you create a meeting that prioritizes collaboration and conversation at the structural level. When you dedicate 66% of your meeting time to engagement, you’re all but guaranteed to drive it. And it does so while designating enough time to cover the most important parts of your meeting.
Of course, it’s not always possible to design a meeting with this even of time distribution. But the more time you can designate for engagement, the better.
Give Participants Stuff to Do
Once you’ve designed a meeting with room for engagement, you’ll then need to provide activities for participants to engage with. This is done by providing calls to action (CTA).
A good guideline is to provide some sort of call to action every seven minutes or five slides. This could be as simple as asking for a reaction to the current slide, or as complex as breakout sessions with collaborative notetaking.
Make Sure People Raise their Hands
The third step to creating engagement is meeting facilitation. While design and calls to action provide opportunities for engagement, the facilitator is responsible for initiating and directing engagement throughout the meeting. In practice, this involves reading calls to action, fielding questions, and introducing interesting chat conversations to the main presentation.
Use a Moderator
One effective facilitation strategy is to have an assistant moderator who notes what’s happening in the chat. They can field questions, share resources and facilitate conversation. This relieves the presenter of this responsibility while facilitating communication throughout the meeting.
The moderator can also help facilitate the Q&A. One of the most challenging parts of a virtual meeting is fielding questions. It’s essential to engagement, but participants are often hesitant to be the ones to ask the first question. A moderator can push through this by asking the first question themselves.
Meeting facilitation is an essential part of driving high engagement levels. However, it’s not always possible to find a great facilitator. In this case, you can fall back on design and CTAs to force poor facilitators to create good engagement.
Meeting engagement doesn’t happen by accident. It occurs as a result of careful meeting design and facilitation that provides opportunities for participation. By following these best practices, you can create an impactful and engaging virtual experience.
Want to create a better virtual experience for your attendees? Intempio can help deliver seamless, user-friendly engagements at scale. Tell us about your meeting needs today!