4 Ways Technology Can Increase Your Virtual Meeting Engagement…Plus a Bonus Tip
Here’s how virtual meetings always seem to go: you log on, you listen, and you leave, without much interaction. Maybe you ask a question or two in the chat box. But often it’s a one-sided conversation.
That said, virtual meetings are here to stay and they’re pretty critical these days for most group interactions, whether that’s a meeting, professional development, or for dinner with friends on a Friday night.
Here are a few things you can do to make your virtual events stand out and keep attendees from jumping off halfway through. We use these ourselves and we’ve heard from customers who are using some or all of successfully.
Stan Phelps, who we talk to often about engagement and growth, uses polling when he’s speaking virtually. Polling allows you to engage attendees by asking simple questions they answer using their keyboards. Questions like where they’re from, how long they’ve been members, their favorite vacation spot, their job title, what they’re looking to get out of the event, etc., and the speaker shows the summarized responses on the screen or reads them out loud.
The idea of a virtual breakout session is the same as with breakout sessions used for in-person meetings. Attendees move into smaller groups to discuss particular topics in greater detail. Depending on the technology you choose, the system can group participants for you, i.e. in similar roles or in roles that are completely different, or you can group them yourself. (BTW, it’s good to let participants know you’ll want them to use their cameras, so they’re not caught in their PJs.)
Posting a recording of the webinar in your members-only forum is a great way to keep the conversation going, give the topic a longer shelf life, and increase the value of the event. Attendees and members who didn’t attend can watch at their convenience, and additional points of view and information can be shared long after the meeting ends. Once members register for the thread, they’re notified every time a new comment is added, which extends the meeting in a meaningful way.
Just because it’s a virtual event, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide chances for networking. Continue the conversation after the meeting with a virtual happy hour, or even a half hour. And, as with the breakout sessions, ask attendees to turn on their cameras, to better interact with the others in the “room.”
A fifth tip…the presentation
The slides. Move away from having every slide look the same and branded with your chapter information at the bottom. To give attendees different things to look at while they’re listening, diversify your slides with color, bolded text, and images.
The speaker. Avoid reading the slides word-for-word. Slides are meant to be a prompt and allow the speaker to present in a relaxed, conversational manner. Also, be sure to consider what’s going on in the background. If the background is too busy, with papers falling everywhere or the speaker uses a virtual beach background, participants may focus on that instead of what’s being said. Think about using a screen shot of your website, or a picture of a simple office.
Right now, holding a virtual meeting just isn’t enough. Chapters need to find ways to stand out from all the other virtual events their members and guests are being asked to attend. By incorporating techniques like these, you’ll increase the value you provide and the engagement of attendees, giving them some of the connection they’re missing and probably craving right now.