You’re on your second or third Zoom meeting of the day. The sea of faces in boxes look bored, tired, and are just as ready to be done as you are. The trouble is: this is the middle of the workday, and there is still a lot to be done. How can you shake things up and get your team interested and actively participating in virtual meetings?
Luckily, there are proven techniques to build engagement in the virtual work environment. These techniques lead your team towards greater cohesion, collaboration and make the workday flow more smoothly.
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How Can We Make Virtual Work?
The biggest hurdle in virtual and in-person work environments is building voluntary engagement. This generally won’t just happen in a Zoom meeting on its own. Engagement is the key to keeping your team interested, active, and ready to problem solve.
In a meeting, you are generally focused on one of four things: finding solutions to problems, providing education/onboarding, making decisions, or building relationships. It is essential for everyone in a meeting to not sit back in a passive, “observational” capacity.
The key to a successful virtual meeting is for everyone to have a role and have a way to participate actively. With a well-established and well-planned meeting framework, this becomes much easier. It is time to say goodbye to endless Powerpoint slideshows and tangential stories.
Redesign Your Format to Optimize Attention
After being in a meeting for a while, your eyes will start glazing over at a certain point. Most people only have 30-40 minutes of energy and interest for virtual meetings. That doesn’t mean the content isn’t engaging (but is it, though?) or that the work isn’t essential. It just means that human beings lose steam on virtual work platforms.
If you are tasked with creating a framework for your meeting that optimizes team members’ attention and utilizes the time most effectively, here are some ideas to help you get started.
Determine the MVP (Minimum Viable Powerpoint)
Whittle down your presentation to include the least amount of information you need to educate and engage your team. Less is more here. Information overload prevents your team from taking in the details and integrating them for their future virtual work.
The 5 Minute Rule
Do your very best not to talk more than 5 minutes at a time without redirecting the focus back to your team. At that 5 minute mark, you can redirect them to a break-out room to focus on a specific task or question. Or, end your 5 minutes with a question you can then turn back to the team, giving them the floor.
Keeping your time to 5-minute chunks keeps the team from sinking into the dreaded Zoom coma. Best yet, it keeps you focused on delivering the most important information concisely.
Keep it Light
Start your meeting with something that engages your team, like virtual icebreakers. An icebreaker gets the meeting started with a lighter, energetic mood. A quick game or conversation also helps build relationships and break up the work talk. Or you can even hire a goat for your meetings on special occasions!
Provide Active Opportunities for Participation
It’s vital to foster a culture that no one in the workplace is an observer. Every role in your company is essential and builds towards overall success. In virtual meetings, assigning roles can help your team stay engaged, knowing that they have something to contribute.
Appoint a Virtual “Jester”
This person has the vital job of playfully interrupting monologues that have gone on too long. They can unmute and play a silly sound to let the person know they need to wrap up.
Also, they have the job of being the vibes watcher. That means that they pay attention to the group energy. The jester makes sure to ask when everyone needs a stretch break or provides a quick distraction with a humorous cat video or work-appropriate joke.
What can build team member engagement during virtual work?
Voluntary engagement is what makes your group buzz with potential. When your crew is all tapped into the same frequency, it feels like your company is unstoppable. How can you inspire this? For virtual work-from-home jobs, it can feel like an extra challenge.
One of the significant ways to foster engagement is to help connect your employees with your customers. Whether you sell a product or a service, you impact the lives of many people. It is your customer base that drives your company and helps create your place in the market.
While creating in-person connections may be a challenge in some circumstances, there are other ways to foster engagement. Sharing stories, reviews, or testimonials from customers that your company has positively impacted inspires your employees. If they feel their work is making a difference in customers’ lives, they reinforce their commitment to their work and performance.
Gaining a sense of satisfaction gives their work greater meaning, which in turn encourages more engagement.
How Can Virtual Work be More Fun?
If you’ve ever thought work wasn’t supposed to be fun, then think again. Having fun at work has a massive impact on team member longevity, productivity, and overall satisfaction. Begin your meetings with an icebreaker or quick game (don’t forget the prizes!) to help everyone feel more cheerful and ready to work.
You don’t even need to reinvent the wheel. For fun virtual games from work, you can choose classic icebreakers like “show and tell” or “two truths and a lie.” They’re just as fun now as they were when you were a kid. Virtual work can be lonely or monotonous, but there are ways to spice up the Zoom room to make for a more joyous workday.
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