Virtual meeting: The keys to enhancing your staff engagement

network 0411 virtual meetin

In a brilliant high-growth IT firm in Nairobi, the shift from traditional in-person meetings to a hybrid model combining virtual and face-to-face interactions was initially met with mixed reactions.

The transition was born out of necessity during the peak of remote work trends during Covid-19, but as the world settled into a new normal, the firm noticed a significant drop in meeting engagement.

Employees felt disconnected during virtual sessions, often multitasking or tuning out. Recognising this issue, the management decided to revamp their approach, aiming to harness the flexibility of virtual meetings while maintaining the personal touch of physical interactions.

The hybrid approach now utilised widely across corporate Kenya, brought about a gradual change at the IT firm. Initially, the team leaders faced challenges in maintaining consistency in engagement levels. In virtual settings, distractions were rampant, and the lack of physical presence made accountability difficult.

However, as they began to implement structured strategies for interaction, such as designated discussion times and rotating meeting leads, the dynamics started to shift. Team members became more involved, knowing they might be called upon to contribute at any moment.

The integration of virtual tools that facilitated real-time collaboration, like digital whiteboards and breakout rooms, further bridged the gap between the physical and digital realms.

In research by Justin Hale and Joseph Grenny, insightful strategies for enhancing participation in virtual meetings have become widely used. Their studies suggest that the key to effective virtual meetings lies in transforming passive listeners into active participants. Such action involves crafting meetings that are not only informative but also engaging, by structuring them around interactive elements that require active involvement from all attendees. By setting clear expectations for participation and using technology to create immersive and interactive experiences, meeting leaders can foster a more dynamic and productive virtual meeting environment.

In the evolving landscape of the post-Covid world, where virtual meetings complement in-person interactions, it becomes crucial to apply these principles to maintain high engagement levels.

Companies should focus on designing meetings that are not just necessary but also worthwhile for participants. This means prioritising clarity in communication, ensuring each meeting has a defined purpose, and using the right technological tools to facilitate active participation. As an example, starting meetings with compelling questions or problems that encourage immediate input can help captivate attention and sustain engagement throughout the session.

To gauge the effectiveness of their virtual meetings, teams can employ various metrics such as participant feedback, the completion rate of assigned tasks during meetings, and post-meeting surveys. Such tools can help identify areas where the meetings fall short and provide insights into how they can be improved. Regular reviews of meeting outcomes and participant engagement levels remain essential for the continual improvement of meeting strategies and for ensuring that all team members find value in the time spent in these sessions.

As for regular employees, it proves important to approach virtual meetings with a proactive mindset. Participating actively, whether through voicing opinions, sharing ideas, or simply showing engagement through non-verbal cues, can significantly enhance the quality of virtual interactions.

Employees should also familiarise themselves with the technology used in meetings to avoid technical issues that could hinder their participation. Moreover, being prepared with points to discuss and questions to ask can make virtual meetings more productive and engaging for all participants.

In summary, as businesses continue to navigate the hybrid model of virtual and in-person meetings, applying research-backed strategies can transform the efficiency and effectiveness of meeting interactions.

By fostering an environment that encourages active participation and values the input of each team member, companies can ensure that their meetings are not only attended but are also genuinely productive and achieving organisational goals. In doing so, they not only enhance the quality of their meetings but also contribute to a more inclusive and dynamic organisational culture.

Have a management or leadership issue, question, or challenge? Reach out to Dr Scott through @ScottProfessor on X or email [email protected]

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