There is a vivid example that BRODY trainers share about conducting virtual meetings. An insurance executive told his BRODY coach, Marjorie Brody, “Everyone loves my webinars!”
Pete was confident in his ability to connect with and engage his audience. Marjorie’s interest was piqued. What did Pete do on his webinars and how did he know that everyone loved them?
As part of Pete’s coaching Marjorie sat in on his next webinar just a few days later. She observed Pete facilitating a weekly team meeting (what Pete had called a webinar). Everything seemed to be going fine as he moved through his first two points. Just as Pete was launching into his third point, everyone began hearing repeated beeping on the line. It sounded like someone was trying to make a call.
Pete stopped in the middle of his third point and asked, “Is someone trying to dial out?” Silence rang through the meeting. Pete asked again, “Who is this?” A child’s voice answered, “It’s Timmy.”
Pete asked, “Timmy, what’s your last name?”
And once he knew that answer, “Timmy, where’s your dad?”
In a small voice, Timmy said, “He’s outside mowing the lawn.”
Pete obviously wasn’t as good at engaging his remote audience as he thought. He had assumed the silence meant everyone was listening intently.
We may smile at Pete’s story, but let’s be fair to Pete. How do any of us know whether our audience is really listening during our virtual meetings?
Here are 4 tips to help you better connect with your remote audience next time you lead a virtual meeting:
- Encourage everyone to be on their webcams. It increases the level of accountability exponentially. It is much harder to multitask when everyone else can see you.
- Call people by name. Use their names in statements while you present or ask direct questions. People feel included when their names are used – and it also wakes them up!
- Increase your energy. The energy and enthusiasm you show for a topic can transfer to the remote participants.
- Use virtual platform tools. While 2-way audio works well with small groups, chat, polling, and annotation tools can engage a larger audience. Build this type of engagement into your presentation every 3-5 minutes to bring participants’ attention back to the meeting.
When it comes to virtual meetings, the more interaction you can have with remote participants, the more connected they will feel to you and the presentation material. You won’t completely recreate in-person encounters, but with consistent and thoughtful interactions, you’ll certainly stop people from sneaking out to mow their lawns.
For more tips, check out my blog on "3 Ways to Increase Connection with Remote Customers & Team Members"