Over the last two weeks we have shifted furiously to online platforms. Ronni Burns, an Aziz communication expert, shares her tips on conducting successful internal and external meetings.
Many executives are finding online meetings are going far better than initially anticipated. They may cover less content in each meeting, which is attributed to checking in more often to ask questions and make sure individuals and teams are engaged. Having video turned on and checking facial expressions provide good indicators.
Below are 9 tips to increase attentiveness, engagement and success:
- Slide visuals are extremely important in meetings, avoid lots of words. Relevant visuals help people internalise and apply the material, pay more attention and retain the information better.
- Animating the entrance of bullet points on text-heavy pages helps individuals to focus on each point rather than being overwhelmed by words.
- There’s a need to be even more energetic and faster paced when presenting. Slow, quiet speech can cause participants to tune out. Variety in tone of voice and facial expressions are more important on small screens.
- It helps to change the type of content every 8-10 minutes, using questions, the poll function on the toolbar, the chat and breakout room functions, or YouTube videos where appropriate.
- To increase audience participation, asking each person to write down answers to questions viewable only the meeting assistant helps. It’s impossible to present and simultaneously read all the chat responses. If participants know they’ll be asked to respond to questions directly, they’re more likely to have valuable responses ready.
- In the case of larger meetings, ensuring all participants are listening to the entire session is impossible. Giving a short poll or question at various points, including the end, motivates all to pay attention throughout.
- Showing the current and practical applicability of the content increases engagement. For example, considering how a decision will impact on various departments, clients and other key stakeholders.
- It’s a good idea to summarise key points more frequently in the event participants are multi-tasking, to ensure they walk away retaining the most important concepts discussed.
- Given that many leaders shared they’re covering few points in each meeting, it’s necessary to figure out over the course of several days or weeks, how to reduce the material you’re planning to cover.
My best advice is to embrace the opportunity to learn to communicate in new ways, beyond your comfort zone. As we all know, everything is increasingly going digital. While the current situation is forcing us all to accelerate our adaptation to new communication formats, platforms and skills, it’s a transition we all would have had to make at some point. Leaders will have to experiment based on the audience, the subject matter, and their own personal style to find what works best. Excelling, like everything else, depends on iteration and continuous improvement.
Ronni Burns advises corporate clients, non-profits and universities. These tips were adapted for corporates, from an article she co-authored for Forbes.