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  • Kathy O'Brien

Generating Input on a Virtual Meeting

Recently we shared ways to encourage engagement on virtual meetings. That article provided many choices within your control to ensure you capture and hold attention during your Zoom session.



This time, we’ll go further with techniques that maximise participation.


These steps work best when you are both host and session leader. Prepare to leverage the tools available, and you will be amazed at all that emerges.

  • Alert with specific instruction. Alert people in the notification email that you want input early-on. They will be prepared, and introverts will get that much-need time to think about what they want to say. Your email can say:

We will open with a quick brainstorm. Think of one idea you have for this year’s offsite, and be prepared to share at the start.

  • Create breakout rooms early-on. Establish a pattern of engagement from the start so it becomes a virtuous circle. Breakout rooms are a great way to do this because participants feel far less self-conscious than in the big group. Also, the small size creates a social contract (I have to speak when I’m with only two colleagues).

Be sure to give clear instructions. Say:

We’re going into a breakout to discuss this new initiative. In your rooms, talking about what we must put in place to launch successfully. One person make a list, and when you come back share with us the best ideas you heard in your group.


Note the emphasis on what they heard, not what they said. This gets people listening well.


You can click Breakout Rooms, choose the number of rooms, and then let the system group them randomly; or you can get someone to support you on the call (make that person co-host) and group according to a plan.


People always open up in a small group, and you will find the energy much higher when they return.

  • Take a poll. You can do this with a simple show of hands, e.g.

How many prefer Plan A? I see 6 hands raised. How many prefer Plan B? Wow, more than 10 of you. Looks like Plan B has more support.


You can also use the polling function on your videoconference platform: participants click thir choices.


Remember your role as host: to state out loud what’s happening, reflect the group’s feedback and keep everyone on track.

  • Use a polling tool. Menti and Kahoot are two examples of interactive software that encourages participation while adding enjoyment to the experience. With minimal effort, you can create quizzes, polls and word clouds. Be sure to save a QR code from your page so your participants simply point their phones and start playing.

Double-check your instructions to be sure you are telling people clearly what’s happening and what they must do. It remains your job to reflect the group’s feedback as they input.

  • Type ideas into the chat. You can do this for any topic – views, suggestions, examples, questions. Say something like this:

For just one minute, type in as many ideas as you can! Let’s see how quickly we can generate 20 ideas.

or

We know you’ve faced challenges like this with clients. Put your examples in the chat so we can all see and talk about them.


Chat enables the group to see a lot of input quickly. It’s preferred by people who don’t like to feel ‘on the spot’. It’s also more efficient when you have varying connection quality as it overcomes the talking-over-each-other problem. You can also save the transcript at the end of the call for further reflection.


A good way to introduce these methods is one-at-a-time. Test one new approach on a call; note what works well; and try another technique in the following meeting.


It’s clear virtual meetings will remain an everyday reality in our global world. For you, it’s a core competency. Become the most engaging leader in your sessions, and enjoy the increased input and enthusiasm you receive.



Red Shoe shares these tips to help you make deliberate choices in communicating your executive presence.



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