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How do you keep your teams engaged during online meetings?

You know, it happens. Lots of conference calls these days. After some time, you may notice some of your teammates disengage. 

How do you prevent that?

Share your thoughts and pieces of experience :)

5 comments

Dave Liao Community Leader Oct 22, 2020

Make sure your teammates actually need to be at the meetings. 😉

If so, ensure you have specific questions/goals to answer/obtain during the meeting.

Like # people like this

Hi there! Make sure that the meetings are efficient, and if you're done before you use all the time that you scheduled for the meeting, end it early :-). People tend to appreciate this. I like to use some humor when possible so people have some fun. And if you show enthusiasm in the meeting (even if it's a little bit exaggerated, but not to much), you'll see that most participants start feeling more energetic too.

Like Dave Liao likes this

I see three reasons for people disengaging from meetings.

  • Dissonance
  • Disinterest
  • Distraction

I'll explain a bit more about those, but my main response to your title question is that online meetings are not the problem themselves, they are just making it more clear that you have problems with your meetings

Dissonace - this is where people are simply bored and hence lose interest, but it can also be that they don't like what is being said or the person speaking.  You can't do much about it if the content or speaker is not liked by the member, but you certainly can work on the boredom element.  Keep your meetings short and small, don't let one person do all the talking, make it clear that everyone there is there for a good reason and everyone is going to contribute (except for "monitors" - I have a lot of stuff where I need to know what is going on, but every chance that I have nothing to add - monitor is a different role from attendee).  And let it be sociable - people are naturally social, let them be so.   In a meeting room, even if there's no time to be sociable, people still are, during their conversations but also in their body langauge.  That's  massively crippled by remote meetings, so allow time for people to be sociable (and ideally ask everyone to be on camera, especially if they don't already know each other well, it can help with a bit of the body language, but the main thing is it shows people, not just voices)

Disinterest - this is probably the biggest killer of meetings.  It's not the same as boredom although being bored quickly happens if someone is disinterested.  The main fix here is not have the meeting, or at least, not invite people to whom it has no relevance.  Stop asking for meetings unless you can "sell" it to every person there.  If any person you have invited to a meeting leaves it and can not answer "yes" to "was that useful?", you are wasting their time and yours.  Consider your audience.  Invite the people impacted, and have an interest.  Not people by rote.  Also, actively encourage your people to refuse meeting invites when it's not relevant to them.  If they refuse something that you think they should be going to, that is a problem, yes, but it immediately uncovers that problem and hence that you need to talk to each other.

Distraction - working from home, for a lot of people, is unfamiliar.  When I used to go to the office, I knew I wouldn't have to deal with a cat launching herself at my face in the middle of a conversation while I was there.  At home, I do.  Or the phone.  Or the deliveries.  Or the kids, or or.  People are more easily distracted at home, but the best thing you can do there is accept it.  Be open to "sorry, the dishwasher was making a funny noise, could you repeat that?", and people walking past in the background of a coffee shop.  There isn't anything you can do about it really, but watch for distractions that give people an excuse to withdraw

Like # people like this

Thanks for this info ! I'll keep it in mind during my next meetings.

Brant Schroeder Community Leader Nov 16, 2020

Have them turn on their cameras.  

Like Dave Liao likes this

You can also try to pick an off-topic subject for the first 2-5 minutes of the meeting to warm the audience.

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