Now, given that we've been running virtual meetings for well over a year, you'd have thought that we'd be quite good at them by now.
Personally, I think the standard is pretty shocking.
In fact, I think it's fair to say that the human race is plateauing at a rather forgettable 4/10...
And that's the problem; they are forgettable. It's just another thing to get through, rather than something that leaves us feeling fired up.
It's time to reset the bar.
In this blog, I'm going to show you how to take your virtual meetings from a forgettable 4 to a satisfying 7.
At the beginning of the call, rather than engaging in awkward chat as the team drip feeds in, keep them in a waiting room and set up for The Magic Minute!
1. Share computer sound --> Play music 🎶
2. Share screen --> Holding slide (e.g. relatable Infographic, an icebreaker question, or a slide that lets your audience know your expectations of them from the meeting - download mine here)
When the majority of the team have arrived in the waiting room, keep your camera and mic off, bring them into the room and let The Magic Minute commence!
60 seconds of your glorious beats complete with a holding slide to set the tone will help your audience to experience a pattern break. Allowing them to finish what they were doing, arrive in a new headspace and most importantly of all, build anticipation for the meeting ahead.
If you want your team meetings to be remembered, you have to make it an experience.
Side note: Cinema's have their own version of the magic minute in between the trailers and the film starting. *Lights down* *Film certificate*
Reality check: your audience have got a long list of things that they'd rather be doing than attending your meeting and listening to you speak.
This means that engagement is the most important tool in your armoury to not only get their attention, but keep it too.
When the magic minute is up and everyone's got their cameras on* your first job is to condition your audience for interaction by asking an easy to answer question like...
Where about's in the world are you calling from today?
Out of 10, how would you rate my pre-meeting music choice?!
What makes a great story?
Now, before I continue I should point out that there is an art to asking questions in a group setting and if you don't know that art, the hard work you've put into warming up the room can go instantly to waste. It goes like this...
Question, Direction, Reward
Step 1: Question
Ask an easy to answer question (and pause to allow your audience to reflect)
Step 2: Direction
Tell the audience how you would like the question to be answered. In this particular case, we want non-verbal interactions. e.g. type your answer in the chat. This takes the pressure off the audience's response and doesn't make them feel like they are about to become the centre of attention.
Step 3: Reward
As answers start to appear in the chat box, read some of them out along with the names of the people who responded. Then sprinkle in some praise - 'love that/great answer etc.' What we are doing here is rewarding positive behaviour.
Remember, Humans are like dogs -
reward the behaviour you want to see!
Now the precedent has been set: when you ask, they answer (and most importantly of all, they feel safe doing it).
Incidentally, this has another benefit. If you've primed your audience to ask questions from the very beginning of the call, it's going to be much harder for them to half listen in and crack on with something else that they'd rather be doing.
*Make having your camera on during team meetings a non-negotiable habit. Give people advanced warning that it is what you expect. No camera - no attention, no connection no impact.
Video will never replace in person contact. We are social creatures. But I think if there is one thing that incorporating video into our working lives has done, it's that it's made us lazy.
Too many people that take video calls sat slumped in their chairs like Jabba the Hut, in a room with lighting that makes them look more serial killer than leader with the camera pointing directly up their nose!
If this resonates - reset your bar:
1. Stand up - no longer will your lungs be crushed by your ribs! Communication is a transference of feelings and that requires you to be able to breathe properly, use your whole vocal range and your whole body to gesture (the more you gesture the more engaging you are).
2. Webcam - eye height. Don't have a standing desk? I've used this one for the last 5 years - £30. Your spine will thank me.
3. Face a window - it's the cheapest light box ever and there are no creepy shadows!
4. Eye contact - we use it to build trust. On video calls, look directly into the camera lens for the first and last 30 seconds of the call minimum.
5. Don't hide behind your slides. It's hard to create a connection when you're the size of a minion on the screen. If you're using slides, get into the habit on stopping your screen share when you don't need it and when you want a point to really land.