Through Covid we had the fantastic opportunity to develop and facilitate numerous virtual teambuilding sessions for old and new clients across the world. The first thing that really took us by surprise was just how effective these online sessions were. Clients were excited about the results they were a seeing and how quickly their staff embraced this new format.
One area of concern for us during the development phase was what level of engagement would we be able to achieve on these sessions? We quickly realized that as with on-site events, a combination of a few simple rules, fun activities, great professional facilitation and effective behind the scenes technical support were the key to success.
Here are 5 great tips (that we learned the hard way!) for you to get people engaged and excited about your next online meeting.
1. Cameras on
On all of our sessions we insist on cameras on. Why? It’s really quite simple, if you want people to be engaged in a meeting they need to be physically present (virtually). Imagine running a meeting in your board room and everyone came in a mask or with a box on their head? It would be ridiculous under these circumstances to think that people will engage and connect.
By allowing cameras off, you are effectively giving your delegates a hall pass on connecting effectively. Without cameras you are running a webinar, not a meeting at best its a conference call. This is fine if your are just looking to impart information, but if you want real connection and rapport, it wont work.
This can be a bone of contention but if managed properly it can be a game changer. Firstly ensure that people are informed prior to the meeting that cameras are to be on and ensure where possible that delegates are equipped and ready for a ‘cameras on’ session.
2. Ice Breakers
Yes, its a serious meeting. Yes you have important things to cover. No, we don’t want to play silly games … but you should!
Ice Breakers are fantastic because they foster connection through the most powerful tool of all – laughter. Studies have shown that laughter is an amazingly powerful tool that can be used to ensure successful connection. This happens because when we laugh together we are acknowledging that we see something from the same point of view, that we are connect around something essentially human. And as the Joker said: ‘WHY … SO … SERIOUS’.
Go here for some great virtual ice breaking ideas.
3. Plan carefully and send an agenda
For some reason virtual meetings tend to be poorly planned and communicated. Perhaps this is because these meetings are easy to organize and as such are not given the attention to detail that is normally given to an in-person meeting.
Just like any other meeting, virtual meetings should be carefully planned and an agenda or meeting plan should be communicated to delegates prior to the meeting. Why? The first reason is that it will assist with topic buy-in prior to the actual meeting. Knowing the topics to be covered or discussion points to be raised will allow delegates to be prepared. The second reason is that it allows delegates to get their technical side sorted, cameras, internet, safe space etc.
Another factor that is often lacking from Virtual meetings is proper intros at the start of the session. It would be normal in an on-site meeting to ensure that each delegate introduces themselves or are introduced by the meeting leader. This doesn’t always happen with online meetings. Whether this is due to the unfamiliar format or issues with tech, it is essential that this happens.
One fun way to intro everyone is to run an icebreaker called ‘hates and likes’. Each delegate introduces themselves and their role and then has to come up with something they hate and something they like, guaranteed lots of laughs. For other virtual ice breaking ideas, look here.
5. Ask for feedback
At the end of each virtual session ask for feedback. What worked? What didn’t? Any suggestions going forward. This is a great way to engage. Your delegates, show them that you care and provides useful info that you can incorporate or techniques that you can adjust before your next meeting.
Virtual Meetings should be effective and can be fun, it just takes a little thought.
To book a Virtual Team Build check out our world class products here.
For more tips and tricks go here.