My company uses web meetings a lot--to host  workshops, meet with clients and pitch prospects.

So I've learned that web meetings can almost as effective as face-to-face sessions.

That's why it surprises me when I attend a web meeting that is so deadly dull that it might as well have been an 1980s conference call. You've been there: One speaker presents, and everyone else just sits quietly and listens (or, more likely, multitasks).

What's the secret to making web meetings much more dynamic? One word: participation.

By giving people at the meeting an active role, you create great energy. Plus, everyone is more focused, so you accomplish more in less time.

Sounds good, but how? Here are five ways to start:

  1. Choose the best meeting platform. Many companies dictate which platform their employees can use, so you have to use what you've got. If you have an option, however, make sure to choose a platform that has robust features--like chat, polling and whiteboarding. Two to consider: Adobe Connect and Webex.
  2. Get to know what the meeting platform has to offer--and become comfortable with every feature. Almost every provider offers online tutorials or web workshops, so you can learn how to.
  3. Set expectations that your meeting is going to be different. By now, many people equate "virtual meeting" with multitasking; they expect to tune out. At the beginning of your next session, tell participants that you're doing this meeting differently--and they can expect to be actively involved
  4. Choreograph to build in participation. For example, start with a short poll meant to get participants' opinion about a certain topic. Another idea: Present your content, then ask for questions or comments in the Chat window.
  5. Be bold asking people to take part. In many virtual meetings, I say this, "I want to make sure we hear from everyone, so there may be times during the meeting that I ask you to comment or share your viewpoint." And I then will call on a person by name to include them in the discussion.

It's simple, really. When you design a virtual meeting to create interaction, participants will . . . participate. And isn't that what a meeting is all about?


Published on: Jul 18, 2016
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