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12 Ways to Improve Virtual Meeting Engagement

Have you ever "zoned out" during a Zoom meeting?

by Eric Holdeman / December 6, 2020

Betty Lochner consults and blogs at Cornerstone Coaching & Training. I'll be interviewing her next week on the Disaster Zone Podcast about leading virtual teams.

Today she has shared these tips for leading virtual meetings. I have to confess that keeping me engaged "fully" can be a challenge with a video conference — with no video sharing. We can all do a better job of running our own meetings!

12 Ways to Improve Virtual Meeting Engagement

Betty Lochner blog post

If nothing else, 2020 has introduced us to an historical digital experience that has changed business communication. And with it the introduction of endless virtual meetings. The virtual and in-place communication trend is predicted to be the beginning of new era of standard communication revolution. Safe to say, they are here to stay. One of the biggest challenges is managing all those virtual meetings. How do you keep participants engaged and interested meeting after meeting?

It’s certainly a challenge for leaders, and takes additional strategies that you may not use in face-to-face or “traditional” meetings.

Here are some great tips you can use to become a better virtual meeting facilitator and improve keeping participants focused and engaged. It will also keep your team from getting Zoom fatigue (it’s a real thing) and/or falling asleep.

Here are 12 ways to improve engagement in your virtual meetings:

1. Start Early

Try having an unofficial start. Be there 5-10 minutes early and create immediate engagement before the official start time. Use is as a time to check in and reward those who show up early.

2. Ask a Question

Start off with a poll or question in the chat. Get people interacting immediately. This creates energy and sets the tone for an energized meeting.

3. Fill in the Blanks

Conduct a round robin exercise. Ask each person to fill in a blank in the chat “The next year that we had a loss was…..”

4. Set Expectations

Tell attendees how the meeting will flow, when cameras and mics should be on, etc. Ask attendees to minimize distractions by shutting off notifications, and review expectations before each meeting.

5. Meet with Purpose

Meet for a purpose instead of meeting for time. State the meeting purpose and objectives up front. End the meeting when that has been completed. Don’t fill the time up because it’s on everyone’s calendar. Give back the gift of time away from the computer whenever possible.

6. Keep Things Moving

Change activities every 20-25 minutes to avoid boredom. A virtual setting gets old really quick, so stay away from long lectures and boring slides.

7. Sprinkle with Humor

Add cartoons or jokes during the meeting. Keeping it light and adding humor will quickly re-capture attention and engage your audience. Try asking a riddle or answer to a joke in the chat as you are getting started.

8. Use Emojis

Have some fun. Ask participants to use emojis, or add gifs in the chat.

9. Switch up Your Tone of Voice

Get louder and then slightly softer. Any change in your voice will stimulate attention.

10. Get to the Point

Use short simple sentences. There is little tolerance for verbosity on the screen and our brains turn off when hear “lecture mode”. Use stories as much as possible to create a natural feel and flow.

11. Use Participant Interviews

Ask a meeting participant to interview a teammate instead of giving the usual update report.

12. Ask for Input

Call on participants but don’t let them know when it’s their turn. Rotate people and make this the norm so people don’t feel put on the spot.

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