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By now you’ll have many virtual meetings under your belts, as well as far too many biscuits. Us too, and our experiences over the last four weeks are informing the ways we help people with their remote communications. The situation is constantly evolving, so we all have to observe, adjust behaviours, and learn. For example, we have observed no reduction in the desire for biscuits, so we’ve learned it would be wise to stop buying biscuits. Just working on the adapting behaviour part.
If you missed it, above you find a link to our last Webinar on Virtual Meetings. We've distilled the key points below for you.
What do you need your platform to do? Recording, screen-sharing, virtual engagement tools, moody Star Wars backdrops – the first step is making sure you have the right capabilities. A webinar format may not be as useful as a meeting, particularly if you want to encourage interaction. And don’t overuse the medium - sometimes you just need a phone call.
People need to connect outside of meetings in order to feel comfortable within them. People who feel connected to the group are more likely to communicate effectively within the meeting. Be proactive in facilitating this – create a Happy Hour drinks session at the end of the week, a meme-sharing group chat, even a quiz night.
Be clear about the length of meeting, your agenda, and how much participation is expected from your team. Give clarity about the outcome you’re looking for. Is this meeting for discussion, informing, or decision making? Has your team pre-read the pre-reads? It may be more effective to hold an Amazon briefing, spending the first ten minutes reading the briefing documents. Perhaps over a nice biscuit.
The facilitator sets the tone for interaction. ‘Dave, what’s your take on this?’ ‘Judy, can you give us some background on the problem?’ ‘Kelly, we can all see you doing that, please stop and maybe see a doctor.’ Assign tasks so people stay invested in the meeting. This could be reporting on different areas, or being in charge of advancing slides. We’d be in charge of bringing the biscuits if there was anywhere to bring them to. Or any left.
Attention fatigue in online meetings is a real thing. Make slides clear, simple and striking. If your team needs dense data, send it in a document. Present instead the meaning of the data: the main point you need it to communicate. Maybe you’ve been working on a killer business story, but unless you can keep it short and succinct, save it for your podcast.
In real life it’s unnerving to stare at your colleague’s face for longer than you’d gaze at a particularly appetising biscuit. HR might get involved. But in a virtual encounter it does look rude to let your eyes wander away. We know when you’re on your phone. Movement is magnified onscreen too so fiddling or rocking is distracting, and unless you live in a soundproof chamber (weird) keep your mic muted until you want to speak.
Connection is Key
We don’t need more content at the moment - we need more connection. And yes, we know this is technically content you’re reading now. Sorry! But our ultimate goal is helping you connect. We know that virtual communication can be effective, as long as we all adapt and learn. At The Pickering Group we’re doing both, as well as sharing those insights with you. Our virtual communication skills programme is up and running and we’re still here for you, now or whenever you’re ready to engage. We’re looking at a bit longer in lockdown and a lot longer in this virtual business space, so let’s keep developing these new skills together. BYO biscuits.
All the best,
The Pickering Group
Ps. Missed our tips on Virtual Presenting? You can watch our other webinar here.
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