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Your go-to guide to conducting engaging virtual business meetings

by John Saunders
18th Dec 20 1:44 pm

COVID-19 has been a shattering experience for many businesses on a variety of fronts. Not only have the financing, clientele, or sale figures decreased for most companies, operations are now challenging to conduct remotely.

While most business communication with your staff or teammates can be carried out through emails, an occasional business meeting will require a video call. This far into the pandemic, you are likely familiar with Zoom and how to use it for your work meetings.

However, few managers know how to keep their team or even partners engaged during a zoom meeting. With all the distractions that may be present at home (family members, the noise outside, overspilling activities of people present/neighbors), people will generally struggle to stay focused for the entirety of a call.

However, there are few tricks you can use to keep them engaged.

Mastering the logistics

Before getting into the quick tips, you’ll want to establish the ideal platform to conduct your business meeting.

The advisable mode of communication will depend on the key functionality of available platforms and how they cater to the purpose of your business meeting. If your team is to collectively work on a press release, for instance, you’ll want to use Google Docs.

If your business meeting is presentation-based, you’ll want to use a screen-sharing software such as Team Viewer and Windows Quick Assist.

You will want to practice using both audio and video functions simultaneously because most of your communication will be your body language, as opposed to the words you use.

Tips to maintain participants’ attention

Whether your business meeting involves interacting with your team or speaking to partners or clients, keeping them engrossed will contribute to a satisfactory outcome.

This means encouraging them to ask questions, provide their own insight, and pay attention to the facts and figures you will mention. Here are a few tactics you’ll want to employ.

1. Loosen your mannerisms and strengthen your posture

To keep your colleagues focused, your communication skills must be engaging. Your posture must be strong, with a straightened back, to show vitality and confidence, and your mannerisms should make other participants feel comfortable.

The more natural your movements, the less conscious participants will be of the distance. To give the impression of eye contact without seeming too overbearing, you’ll want to look at the top of the screen, right below the camera.

2. Create a neutral but bright background

A bright background can help keep the attention on you as you speak. However, your background shouldn’t be too colorful, to avoid giving off an impression of unprofessionalism.

If you’re looking for something striking but simple to create the ideal background for your virtual meeting, you may want to check out abstract wallpaper mural designers on https://www.photowall.com/us.

3. Instill a no-phone policy (where possible)

When it comes to attention-deficiency in adults, phone use is the biggest culprit. With social media notifications being designed to grasp your attention (as pertinently explained in acclaimed documentary, The Social Dilemma), it is almost natural to look towards our screens when our phones vibrate.

Once the notification is seen, it is tempting to expand it. Instill a no-phone use policy for your business meetings with a positive attitude to encourage participants to remember the importance of giving the meeting their full attention.

4. Use a shared online whiteboard

A shared space on which you can draw drafts or write notes varies the modes of communication, helping your colleagues stay attentive and interested. It also allows those looking to share a thought before they forget it to contribute without interrupting a presentation or someone speaking.

You can use an online whiteboard application simultaneously with an app like Zoom. This whiteboard will provide an incentive to show presence without the pressure of speaking to the camera.

How to avoid minor technical problems

The easiest way to compromise the flow of a business meeting is to have a technical problem. Technical problems like poor connections, a slow or freezing computer, or a crashing application can stop a meeting in its tracks.

This will leave participants suspended, unsure of when the meeting will resume. Some may lose interest or track of your talking points before the technical difficulty.

To avoid a technical problem, you’ll want to practice using all your tools beforehand and change your hardware (microphone/webcam) if need be.

You will also want to be online 5 to 10 minutes before the meeting, have a virtual test call with the colleague, and make sure you can be seen, heard, and otherwise communicated with in real-time.

As a plan B, you should have a second machine or tool (such as a phone or tablet) with similar capabilities as your computer. Your relevant application accounts should be logged into this machine in advance.

The importance of confidence

Virtual business meetings are still a strange experience for some because a lack of experience can be misconstrued as inaptitude.

However, practice makes perfect. If you are conducting your first business meeting remotely, understand that a comfortable use of the logistics at hand is a matter of habit.

Applications like Skype will allow you to record your video call rehearsals, allowing you to spot necessary changes and possible areas of improvement.

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