Meetings and Online courses are now the norm for any company: however, they often risk turning into boring and uninspiring sessions. Here are 9 ideas on what to do on video call to keep participants active and engaged.
Although they are no longer as fundamental today as they have been in the past three years (and thank goodness, I would say), video calling still remains one of the most convenient ways to connect quickly with anyone you want and for any purpose.
And I'm not just talking about friends and family!
In the business world they are among used (they were before, actually), but let's just say that now online calls are practically the order of the day for many companies.
Who now does not use them to meet with clients, partners and collaborators, not to mention meetings with team members scattered all over the place....
In theory, video calls should be no more stressful than a regular business meeting. In the sense that you see and hear who is participating, everything should work as if you were in attendance.
Yet, I bet you have found yourself on more than one occasion thinking that they are more challenging than they may seem....
In fact, I say to you, you have a point!
The reason is actually simple: you and the other people involved are "stuck" in a two-dimensional screen, quite different from the 3-D world we are used to living in. The brain thus goes a bit "wrong," because it likes to know where you are and where everyone else is in space (it's that perhaps little-known sixth sense called proprioception).
You need peripheral vision to make it all work best, but the two-dimensional screen makes it especially difficult.
To make a long story short, those who are live with you have a much harder time picking up on all those signals typical of a face-to-face conversation -- and the result is fluctuating attention and engagement. Ergo, meetings and videocalls turn into sleep session in which participants count down how long until the end.
Keeping someone's attention can be a challenge even when you are in the same place, let alone at a distance!
So, what to do? Abandon video calls altogether and always arrange in-person meetings?
Yes, that might be one solution, a bit expensive perhaps... But there is another one that is simpler and faster: apply a whole series of tricks to help call participants stay alert, interesting and engaged.
I myself have tried and tested many approaches, and, also taking into account a number of my colleagues' experiences, I have gathered here my best advice in this regard.
Continue reading the article-whether you're a neophyte to virtual meetings or feel like an expert on the subject, you'll find some interesting insights into what to do in video calls to make attention and engagement high.
What to do on video call to be more engaging: 9 ideas
When you meet someone in person, there are various things that help the interaction: from a smile or laughter shared during a meeting, to a pat on the back after a job well done, to chatting while sitting around the table waiting for a start... These are all moments that help people stay connected and present.
Instead, when was the last time in a meeting or a webinar online did you feel you had the 100% of participation and attention from everyone?
Yeah, I can imagine your response.
I'll tell you right now that the first secret to an engaging video call is to move from a "I give a bunch of information" mentality to one like "I inspire reasoning and action."
But there's also more you can do: here are 9 ideas on what to do on video call to be more engaging.
#1 Use a show of hands.
I know, you'll feel like you're going back to elementary school a little bit....
Still, this technique works: it is a formal but simple mechanism for getting the conversation flowing from one participant to another. Perhaps the people themselves will need a moment to gear up, but the results in terms of increased clarity will be worth it, trust me.
For the point I was making to you at the beginning, in fact, it can be more difficult to know when it is one's turn to speak during a video call: this is because there is a lack of live interaction, with all those nonverbal signals with which we take turns passing the ball almost spontaneously.
We all unconsciously make and recognize eye-rolls, head nods, head tilts, and so on, but video confuses us: that's why setting explicit rules, such as the hand-raise rule, can help with interactions-as well as make it easier for everyone to take action.
#2 Share the call schedule.
Whether it's a team meeting or a lesson in your online super client course, taking stock before the call (or as soon as it begins) will help everyone stay on track-especially if the video call will last longer than ten minutes.
You have a set list of sorts to follow, while the listener can somewhat plan his or her contributions: an agenda not only provides clarity about what will be discussed and what you hope to get out of the meeting, but it also helps you break the topic down into small parts, with possible question-and-answer breaks in between.
#3 Use the best tools and equipment
It may seem obvious to you, but it's good to remember: to ensure the best experience with your video call, it is essential to equip yourself with the equipment and software that can enable you to do so.
No, I'm not saying that you have to spend top dollar....
But a minimal investment does fit: just enough to equip you with a viable online meeting platform and the necessary hardware (a good microphone, a good webcam and good lighting).
#4 Eliminates distractions
Needless to say, if you first throw your eyes all over the place, running after the various notifications that appear on your PC screen, you cannot expect your audience (whether they are clients or colleagues, it matters little) to give you their full attention.
If you are not fully engaged in the conversation, others will not be either.
If you really need to write notes or look at another screen for any reason during the video call, let people know in advance what you are doing. That way others don't assume you are minding your own business in the meantime 😉
Ah, of course, make sure to avoid distractions for your attendees as well: make sure there is nothing in the background or in the background to distract attention.
#5 Break the Ice
Dissolving tensions and awkwardness before diving into your meeting will create a more stimulating and serene environment-as well as help establish useful bonds and connections for teamwork or simple discussion.
If participants do not know each other, ask (everyone, if the number allows, or just a few) to introduce themselves and tell something about themselves. Sharing even personal experiences helps build empathy.
If, on the other hand, it is your team members, who already know each other quite well, you can investigate their mood by asking them to share how they are and how they are feeling at that moment. This is useful for you to gauge the general mood, when facial expressions and body language might make it more difficult for you.
#6 Make it as interactive as possible
It is critical that your video call be as interactive as possible--based on your goals as well.
Keep the video on and ask everyone to do the same; then include a variety of stimulating media and extra resources so that people stay awake and engaged.
During the call, you can give polls, quizzes, questions, and offer discussion prompts; you can show videos (which will also give you pause), use a virtual whiteboard or mind maps, share your screen to show files or images.
Also provide the option of doing group work, so that people can interact and collaborate with each other in a more intimate and less formal setting.
#7 Assigns tasks and roles.
This is a bit of a continuation of the previous point: offer the various participants the opportunity to occupy a leadership position, taking turns rotating through the various roles.
This is a great way to "shake things up" a bit during the video call and keep everyone alert and engaged. It can also be a great way to generate self-esteem, confidence, and allow everyone to feel truly valued.
#8 Ask for feedback
As part of your efforts to foster engagement and interactivity, you can begin and end each video call with questions designed to stimulate people's feedback.
You can start by asking what they already know about the call topic-this also allows you to figure out what to focus on most. At the end, ask what they liked, what they found most or least useful, and whether they need more clarification or explanation.
Then use this feedback to your advantage, organizing yourself even better the next times.
#9 Plan (and schedule) breaks.
This is perhaps the most overlooked idea, however, to have involvement you need participants to be at their best, which is difficult if they are tired or overwhelmed. So be sure to include time to give them a breather, preventing them from falling asleep or losing focus completely.
This, by the way, will also give you time to reorganize and change any part of your plan if necessary.
So what do you think?
Before I leave you, I would like to give you one last piece of advice: always be prepared.
Let me explain: as you may know, I am a fan of improvisation, understood as spontaneity and freedom to juggle as you go along depending on what you think is most effective in a given situation.
However, it is also true that if you are confused and chaotic, you are unlikely to keep people attached to the screen. Write down (at least in broad strokes) what you intend to say, be sure to repeat key points throughout, and end the meeting with clear conclusions and proposed actions for the future.
Remember that the goal is always to create an experience that is not very unidirectional (where you talk and others listen) and as collaborative and dynamic as possible.
But tell me, do you make video calls often? What difficulties do you usually find?
Let me know in the comments!