Do you ever mute your microphone and secretly read your mail during Skype meetings? Are you one of those who wait as long as possible, hoping some of the other participants will say something when a question is asked? Communication trainer Hanne Lindbæk from Ergo;Ego shares six tips to break old habits and succeed with virtual meetings.
Hanne’s first advice is to be involved in the meeting. «If you put energy and effort into the meeting, you increase the possibility of a better outcome. At the same time, getting involved will encourage the person in charge of running the meeting and help him or her do a better job” she says.
You often get less feedback in virtual meetings. If you are the one who is leading the meeting, learn to handle silence. “Sometimes you almost get the feeling of speaking into a black hole. Try to convince yourself that people like what they’re hearing. Surely, it will make you more energetic and engaging to listen to.” she continues.
We often forget the importance of non-verbal communication in virtual meetings. But even on screen, you communicate much more than what you’re saying. So if you’re leading the meeting and have the possibility: Stand up! “Your posture affects both your voice and energy. If you are leaning heavily over your desk with raised shoulders, you can be sure it affects both. Do like salesmen: Stand up, use your arms and gesticulate.” Hanne says.
Virtual communication tools often bring more possibilities than most people are taking advantage of. “For example, with Zoom you can get nonverbal feedback through the chat function, and you can divide participants into smaller groups to discuss amongst themselves,” Hanne says. She continues: “Get to know your virtual communication tool and dare to explore and try out new functions. Active participation makes long and dull meetings more dynamic and engaging!”
Start by making the participants aware of the virtual aspect of the meeting and that you wish to make good use of the method. “Ask for concentration and participation in a playful and light-hearted way – never in a reproving way, of course!” Hanne encourages.
Have a clear meeting objective when planning the meeting. “Put time and effort in designing the meeting and come prepared. Keep things short and concentrate on what matters. Long documents can be sent to participants after the meeting and don’t have to be completely reviewed in plenary.” she advises.